Councillors set to switch off Dorchester town centre CCTV cash
COUNCILLORS are being asked to consider pulling the plug on funding for Dorchester’s town centre CCTV service.
Members of Dorchester Town Council’s policy committee are to review spending on the existing CCTV scheme including stopping all of its current £17,200 a year contribution.
In a report to members, meeting on Tuesday 17th September, town clerk Adrian Stuart states that continuing to contribute the full amount to the scheme could not be justified as the service – shared with other authorities – is being downgraded.
He states that the town council was at the forefront of a drive towards setting up CCTV in the town in 2005 as part of a national view that it was a useful tool to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.
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Dorchester’s scheme is joint funded with West Dorset District Council but two other partners – Dorset County Council and Dorset Police – no longer fund ongoing costs. Dorchester BID has since become a partner.
Mr Stuart states that the south Dorset CCTV scheme costs around £350,000 a year with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council paying £250,000 and other parties covering the rest.
The borough council manages the scheme including services to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester and to Bridport. But it has decided to stop doing tape review, which will now be done by Dorset Police, and to cut its contribution by £100,000 or 40 per cent.
Mr Stuart states: “This council identified the need to review its contribution in the light of the budget reduction programme which took place two years ago but has held off while WPBC conducted theirs.
“Now that review is concluded, this council is in a position to consider its options.”
They include continuing to pay £17,200 a year – though the service will be reduced from 24-hour coverage to 12 hours daily. The town council’s funding relates to five of the 15 cameras covering central Dorchester.
Other options include a 40 per cent cut of £7,000, reducing the number of cameras being monitored to focus on problem areas and cutting £12,000 off the annual bill, or stopping all funding to the service.
Mr Stuart states that data over the past six years shows cameras are recording around 105 incidents a year, down from the average of 128 between 2006 and 2010.
He found: “In simple terms a typical incident would probably be late night drinking related in the Trinity Street area.”
He added: “It is not possible to gauge the deterrent effect of cameras and their value in either community safety or financial terms.”
He is recommending that three policy committee members look into the issue and present a report next January.
Partner organisations would need time to deal with any changes in the town’s council’s contribution and involvement, which could be implemented from next April.