CCTV pictures 'being blocked by trees'

OVERGROWN trees and a lack of light are interfering with crime-busting CCTV systems in a number of Suffolk towns, it has emerged.

Laurence Cawley

OVERGROWN trees and a lack of light are interfering with crime-busting CCTV systems in a number of Suffolk towns, it has emerged.

Forest Heath District Council currently has seven CCTV cameras in Mildenhall, five in Brandon and 24 in Newmarket.

But in a review of its CCTV system carried out by Martin Cole Consultancy Services, it emerged some cameras were hampered either by overgrown trees, poor lighting or were currently in the wrong place.

In his report to the council's community services committee, Forest Heath's strategic director (services) Nigel McCurdy said a number of actions would need to be taken to “improve the quality of pictures”.

In the case of a camera overlooking Church Lane in Newmarket, he said �500 should be spent cutting back trees because they were interfering with picture quality.

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The camera overlooking Market Square in Newmarket, he said, needed to have the lighting in the area kept on more in order to ensure CCTV images were clear. This move will cost the council a further �500.

In addition, the council is proposing to spend more than �4,000 moving a camera at the back of De Neros nightclub in Newmarket and more than �22,000 moving a camera from School Lane in Brandon to London Road in Brandon to “improve the views of the risk area”.

But Mr McCurdy said the �22,000 cost of moving the Brandon camera would have to go through the council's capital projects scheme and, if it was approved, would be at the expense of another pending project.

He added the extra revenue cost of moving the camera was “not affordable” at the current time.

The review carried out on the council's CCTV system involved testing cameras for picture quality, examining the data received by controllers and carrying out interviews with key organisations involved, such as the police.

Management and control of the district's CCTV systems was passed over to St Edmundsbury Borough Council in 2006 so that they were monitored around the clock rather than up to 100 hours a week as was previously the case.

Decisions on the extra funding highlighted in the review will be decided at the council's community services committee tomorrow night.