Councillor Steve Darling, leader of the Torbay Council, with Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez
and Superintendent Jez Capey in the CCTV monitoring centre
The Torbay system is the first of its kind in Devon and replaces ageing analogue cameras and wiring with state-of-the-art, high resolution digital equipment. The mostly wireless network now consists of more than 300 cameras and includes cover in areas where previously there was none.
The £420,000 project to upgrade the system has been largely funded by Torbay Council with financial support from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Alison Hernandez.
The PCC is running a programme of investment in compatible, high specification systems that link into central centres, meaning monitoring is consistent and professional. Once up and running satellite towns can connect to the centres, creating a resilient network. The programme of upgrades has already resulted the significant expansion of a monitoring centre in Tolvaddon, Cornwall, and plans are in the pipeline for similar systems in North Devon and Exeter which link to smaller communities.
Before the programme launched towns and cities across the South West had a multitude of mostly incompatible systems, some of which were more than 15 years old. Some of the equipment was no longer supported by manufacturers and burdened local authorities with high running costs. The new systems also help local authorities to comply with recent legislation about the holding and sharing of CCTV images.
As well as deterring crime in the first place and providing high quality evidence to assist in prosecutions when crimes are committed, CCTV can also help in the search for vulnerable missing people.
Torbay council leader Councillor Steve Darling said the Torquay monitoring centre, which already connects to Paignton and Brixham, and has in excess of 300 cameras, would assist the authority in creating safer and more prosperous communities. Of the overall cost of the project approximately £100,000 has been invested in providing a new control centre that has radio links to police, retailers and other partners like street pastors.
The running costs of the new system will be significantly lower than that of the system it replaces.
Cllr Darling said: “One of the key benefits of this new digital system is that it will vastly improve imaging. I recently met with the two inspectors responsible for neighbourhood policing in Torbay. They were delighted at the improved standard of picture that the new digital CCTV system has generated and felt this would have a significant impact in tackling crime on our streets in Torbay.
“In addition to the £60,000 from the PCC, Torbay Council is borrowing against the project to the sum of £350,000. We are able to do this as the wireless infrastructure will enable significant revenue savings, which will be offset against the capital repayment costs - so the investment for the council is cost neutral.”
Chief Superintendent Keith Perkin, Devon and Cornwall Police commander of the South Devon area, said: “I am pleased that Torbay will have greatly improved CCTV coverage. This will support our efforts in reducing crime, keeping people safer and bringing to justice those who are intent on breaking the law.
“Too often, many escape justice because of the quality of the images captured on CCTV. The new technology will undoubtedly help us in our investigations, leading to more people being put before the courts. I am pleased to see that Torbay has been identified as the first area in Devon to be able to use the most up to date technology. Along with additional police officers and PCSOs this will help us, working with others to make Torbay safer than it already is.”
PCC Alison said offering practical support to communities to become safer places was a cornerstone of her police and crime plan.
“CCTV has proved its worth time and time again in terms of deterring crime and convicting criminals, but it can do so much more than that,” she said.
“Across Devon and Cornwall we have all too many cases of high risk missing people, with 11,114 people reported missing in the year to March 2019. High quality CCTV is a vital tool in the armoury when it comes to finding these vulnerable individuals. It also helps to protect frontline police officers and compliments the roll-out of body worn video.
“It’s because our community wants to help protect the police and those in need, help businesses thrive by deterring crime and help the police and courts to convict criminals that I am supporting this major programme of improvements across the region. Ultimately it will make our communities safer and mean our finite resources can be tasked more effectively.”
The investment has also been welcomed by business leaders in Torbay. Susie Colley, who chairs the Torquay Chamber of Commerce, said that the new system was long overdue.
“Our local police team does an outstanding job in difficult circumstances and our businesses are all too often affected by crime and disorder.
“The chamber welcomes this investment and would now urge the criminal justice system to do its part to ensure that criminals who blight our communities, and who now have nowhere to hide, are dealt with robustly.”
Jim Parker, of the Torbay Together partnership, which campaigns for investment in the area, said: “Torbay is no different to any other area in the country when it comes to crime and the issues associated with crime. But the message has to be loud and clear to residents and visitors alike that the English Riviera is still very much a safe place to live, work and visit.
“It is investment in such projects as this CCTV network that help to reinforce this hugely important message and is warmly welcomed by partners across the public, private, voluntary and community sectors.”