6:30am Saturday 21st December 2013
By Ben Wilkinson
POLICE are to pull nearly 50 per cent of their CCTV funding – potentially forcing local councils to cover the cost.
Thames Valley Police is planning to take £300,000 from funding for the region’s camera network – 44 per cent of its £675,614 annual contribution.
Its current £329,440 budget in Oxfordshire will fall significantly as a result.
And local councils – which currently contribute the same £329,440 sum to the overall pot – could be forced to stump up more cash, or let the scheme survive on less money.
The proposal has triggered a review of the system which could mean job losses if county monitoring stations move under one roof with newer wireless technology.
Oxfordshire’s 268 cameras are currently monitored by more than 20 staff in police stations in Oxford, Abingdon, Witney and Banbury.
One senior figure on the Oxfordshire Safer Communities Partnership (OSCP) – which is made up of council representatives and the emergency services – has raised concerns.
Chairman Bill Service said: “The question for me is whether the funding lost should be picked up at a district level.
“It is hugely important we have CCTV in order for people in their local communities to feel safe.
“I have reservations but we will have to wait and see what happens and technology is moving on hugely.”
He said the move could mean losing staff no longer needed, adding: “It’s one option and I should imagine they would be foolish not to look at it.
“I can eventually see all the emergency services for each area under one roof.”
The plan is to cut £100,000 from the 2015/16 police budget and then £200,000 the following year. Overall, more than £3m is put into CCTV in the Thames Valley every year.
Rod Matheson, Thames Valley Police Unison branch secretary, said police staff jobs could be transferred to councils or even lost as part of the changes.
He said: “I suspect with that sort of change there would be the inevitable cuts to slim it down.”
Bill Oddy head of community services at West Oxfordshire District Council, said he did not think the number of cameras would fall - but the number of monitoring centres could.
And he said any new system would be more efficient, adding: “Technology should help us to achieve that. It certainly has in the past.”
Police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “CCTV is an effective tool in deterring and investigating crime but it is important that we take advantage of new opportunities in digital technology.’’
He said recent technology employed by the force included body cameras and automatic number plate recognition cameras.
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