SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Who pays for town centre’s new CCTV?

The Lerwick town centre CCTV network is not fit for purpose. Photo: Shetland News

LOCAL law enforcement agencies, emergency services and other beneficiaries may be required to pay a share towards the cost of providing a new CCTV system for Lerwick’s town centre.

A recent confidential report into the state of the current surveillance network, seen by Shetland News, said it urgently needed to be replaced as it was no longer fit for purpose and could not be upgraded or repaired.

Police Scotland meanwhile said in response to a Freedom of Information request from this publication that it could not say how often the Lerwick CCTV network had been out of operation since 2010 “as there is no requirement nor policing purpose” to hold that information.

Police Scotland was also not prepared to say whether or not the system was currently operating as it should be.

Local community safety and resilience board chairman and SIC councillor Alastair Cooper, said: “I believe it is working to some extent.”

Shetland area commander chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch declined to be interviewed on the CCTV issue.

Police Scotland was further unable to say how many crimes had been resolved in Lerwick with the help of the CCTV network since its inception in 2010, as it would prove too costly to go through all the cases.

In another FOI response, the Crown Office said that CCTV had been recorded as one form of evidence in more than 250 cases reported to the Crown between April 2010 and 30 March 2017.

These, however, have not all gone to court and the CCTV evidence could also have been obtained from sources other than Lerwick town centre.

Chairman of the local community safety and resilience board Alastair Cooper.

Meanwhile, the suggestion of having agencies such as the NHS, Scottish Ambulance Service, the court and procurator fiscal services and others pay for the benefits they receive from a reduction in crime on Lerwick’s streets will undoubtedly prove controversial.

Cooper said the local authority was not in a position to pay for a replacement CCTV system, and added that sharing the cost was an issue that was already discussed on a national level, involving COSLA, the representative body of local councils.

“CCTV a live issue,” he said. “Local authorities don’t have to cash to replace aging systems; so they look for partners that also benefit from the cameras: i.e. the police, ambulance service, NHS, the court.

“Police say the real benefit is in prevention. COSLA is meeting with the minister to see if a list can be drawn up with the beneficiaries and see how much they can pay.”

The North Mainland councillor said he was not holding his breath with regards to the possible responses he would get from cash-strapped local agencies.

“A Lerwick CCTV business plan to identify the beneficiaries is currently being drawn up, and from that I was planning to go back to the community safety partnership and say: ‘you are a beneficiary, you need to pay your share’.

“I am not saying I will get anything, but I am going to ask.”

NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said contributing towards the cost of the local CCTV network was not an issue he was aware of, and to his knowledge the local health board has not received any approach about doing so.