Consultation to end over CCTV removal

Consultation to end over CCTV removal

9 May 2018

PUBLIC consultation on controversial plans to axe CCTV from the district’s main towns ends on June 1.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council is planning to pull the plug on the cameras —  installed a decade ago in Downpatrick, Newcastle and Ballynahinch — next March.

The local authority says the equipment has reached the end of its useful life and in what is being seen as a bid to deflect criticism of the move, argues the removal of the cameras coincides with reducing crime across the district.

Axing the CCTV system is being blamed on reduced PSNI funding and problems over recent years with breakdowns resulting in the cameras being out of action for long periods.

The local authority has confirmed it has been footing increasing repair bills and has revealed the cost of replacing the security camera system and updating the technology required to operate would be very expensive.

Council officials — who are asking the public and interested parties for their views on the decision — have also highlighted concerns about the effectiveness of the cameras, explaining there is no evidence which can measure whether the footage they capture is contributing to criminal prosecutions.

The local authority says the difficulty in standardising CCTV monitoring and surveillance across the district, as well as budgetary constraints and the desire to provide ratepayers with maximum value for money, are other factors which prompted their decision.

The organisation says the imminent introduction of stricter data protection legislation will likely increase both the financial and administrative burden of operating the camera system, as well as restricting its future use. 

Confirming the cameras will continue to operate during the new financial year, council officials say those which are faulty will be withdrawn over the coming months.

The local authority insists it remains committed to maintaining and enhancing public safety through its effective partnership working with the PSNI, the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and its own community safety wardens.

The document can be downloaded from the authority’s website, emailing communityplanning@nmandd.org or telephoning 0300 200 7830.

Comments can also be posted in writing to the council’s Downshire Civic Centre headquarters in Downpatrick. The closing date for completed questionnaires or comments is 5pm on Friday, June 1.