Call for CCTV funding to combat anti-social behaviour

Thursday, 29 March 2018

A STRABANE councillor says efforts to secure funding for CCTV cameras in the town centre must be stepped up in a bid to deter crime and anti-social behaviour.

Independent councillor, Patsy Kelly, also claims there needs to be a more equitable distribution of cameras between Derry City and his native town. He says he intends bringing up the issue at the monthly meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council tomorrow afternoon (Thursday).

Council has confirmed the provision of seven cameras in Strabane has already been costed however there is no funding to progress the monitoring system which is estimated to come in at just over 30,000.

It also says that local residents and businesses will be consulted before any decision is taken on whether there is a need for additional CCTV in the town.

Cllr Kelly - a long time advocate for the need for cameras - says recent incidents of violence and anti-social behaviour has shown the need for CCTV in the town. He added that the business community is also supportive of the call.

The introduction of CCTV has been a hot topic for several years and was regularly discussed on the former Strabane District Council and at policing meetings but it has never materialised.

At a meeting of the council's Health and Communities committee earlier this month, a report on public surveillance presented to councillors revealed that the PSNI is reducing its funding support for CCTV within the city.

"Existing CCTV provision can be maintained and monitored but will mean that no new provision can be rolled out unless further rates investment is made or further external capital investment is secured," it said.

Councillors were told that efforts to source external capital investment to support further expansion of the system are continuing.

"A number of meetings have been held with the Strabane Business Improvement District (BID) in relation to the potential for installation of CCTV in Strabane town. As with the installation of any new cameras a privacy impact assessment will be required following consultation with stakeholders and resident," the report added.

'Push on'

Cllr Kelly says it is time for cameras to be installed locally as other big towns and cities have it and has called on council to "push on" with the process adding that the money for the cameras could be found within council resources.

He said it's his understanding that the Strabane BID team is also willing to contribute to any scheme.

"Strabane is a major provincial town and needs CCTV just like any other major town. Derry has cameras too so has Letterkenny, Cookstown, Omagh and Magherafelt so why not Strabane? The town needs to come into the 21st Century.

"Some people have a fear about CCTV but it is there to protect everybody. It's not a policing issue and it is not Big Brother. It's a safety issue and cameras will be there to protect property, local businesses and people going about their daily business and during the night-time economy.

"With recent assaults and anti-social behaviour in the town centre, it would help the PSNI in catching the culprits."

He continued: "Council is hiding behind the costing aspect. It doesn't seem to have been a cost worry when they replaced 39 and put in 23 new ones since May 2015 in Derry at a rough estimate at 300,000.

"We only need five cameras with a rough cost of 30,000 so why are we holding back installing them or who is putting pressure on not to install the cameras?

"The council must come to together with the PCSP, the BID team and whatever other funding sources to get the CCTV cameras into Strabane. It's clear to me that they are needed.

"I have been looking for this money and this service for a very long time yet every time the Derry councillors need a camera it appears to be provided. All I want is fair play for Strabane."

Responding to a query on the issue from this newspaper, a spokesperson for council said: "The proposed installation of seven CCTV cameras in Strabane town centre has been costed but will not commence until funding has been secured and the necessary consultation and statutory approvals take place."

The spokesperson added that two CCTV cameras are operational at the pedestrian bridge in the town since their successful installation last year.




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