Criminals will have no place to hide in Torquay when Torbay Council takes delivery of 13 new CCTV cameras this month.
The extra investment into tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) includes monitors and an additional member of staff to operate the equipment.
The upgrade has been made possible thanks to a £1.1m grant from the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund.
The successful joint bid was submitted by Torbay Council and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, and the money will also be used to address violence against women and girls.
New areas which will now be covered include Melville Street and Torre Hill Road and there will be extra cameras on Abbey Road, the Harbourside and Lower Union Lane.
The cameras are currently monitored in person until 2am on weeknights but the funding means this will be extended until 4am.
The new machinery will sit alongside the 260 existing cameras which watch the Bay’s streets, car parks, lifts and other public areas 24/7.
The high-definition images are recorded, and the control room is linked to local police so that messages can be instantly passed on about any suspicious activity.
The police also regularly pass on intelligence to the team about anything unusual so the CCTV operatives can keep an eye on it.
Councillor Christine Carter, Cabinet Member for Corporate and Community Services, said: “This funding is allowing us to target areas where we know there has been ASB and crime.
“CCTV is an effective tool in the fight against ASB. Our footage has been used in court cases and led to convictions. In some cases, women who have been assaulted have not had to give evidence in person, something that can be very distressing for victims of crime.”
Councillor Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of Torbay Council, said: “The team do a sterling job. Not only are they able to spot instances of ASB and phone them through to the police in real time, they have also assisted police with missing persons cases and helped agencies like the DWP investigate benefit fraud.”
Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Over the past three years I have invested £60,000 to support a major upgrade of Torbay’s CCTV scheme and £200,000 that will pay for measures including additional police patrols.
“CCTV helps us tackle anti-social behaviour, violence and drug use, three of my Police and Crime Plan priorities, so working with local authorities to upgrade systems and investing in monitoring teams is a key part of my approach in building safer communities.
“We know that properly monitored, high quality, modern CCTV helps vulnerable people, reassures communities and catches criminals so I am delighted to have played a part in securing this additional money to invest in Torbay’s CCTV system and the council’s outstanding team.”
Four years ago, Torbay Council upgraded the control room to make it future proof and it is now one of the best in the county.
As a result, the council has been asked to monitor CCTV coverage for Okehampton and Dartmouth and is holding conversations with two other town councils. This means extra revenue for the council which can be ploughed back into services for residents.
The CCTV team, which also includes the council’s security officers, was manning the control room throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the streets were so quiet, it meant that anyone who was out and about was potentially up to no good.
On one evening, the team saw two men trying to break into Paignton Hospital and immediately called it through to the police.
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