New �60,000 CCTV scheme for Saffron Walden

SECURITY in Saffron Walden town centre could be ramped up a gear as Uttlesford District Council looks to pump �60,000 into a new CCTV scheme.

The cabinet at London Road has approved recommendations to meet the town council working group’s request to fund eight new hi-tech cameras to replace the dated current system. However, the final decision will have to be made at full council later this month.

Uttlesford district councillor Alastair Walters, who was involved in the installation of the current system some 14 years ago and who sits on the working group, expressed his delight that funding looks to be forthcoming.

He said: “Some of the existing cameras are over 12 years-old and have given very good service – they are excellent still during the day, but not so much at night. The new cameras will be a significant upgrade.

“Hopefully they will act as a bigger deterrent against anti-social behaviour, and produce clearer images to assist the police in the identification of offenders.”

A first phase of replacements and installations has been identified and, although not decided, the most appropriate and beneficial locations for the new cameras have been earmarked.

Four infra-red cameras could replace existing units in Market Place, while the other four will be put in ‘hot-spot’ areas where anti-social behaviour has been a problem in the past, such as Swan Meadow car park.

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“We live in a beautiful, rural market town with low crime levels, but we still need to operate a zero tolerance against crime,” added Cllr Walters. “We can’t think that we are totally immune from these problems and we will be working closely with the police to get maximum effect from this new CCTV system.”

Town clerk Simon Lloyd explained the type of camera which the council is eager to install, if the bid is successful.

“We are looking very closely at a Ganz WiFi CCTV camera with infra red,” he said. “It will enhance the capability of the current system. It takes very good ‘stills’ and responds to motion.

“The locations are not decided, although we have debated the most appropriate and beneficial locations. It depends on the level of funding and then we will prioritise accordingly.”

News of the funding comes on the back of a number of high profile burglaries from independent shops.

Nicola Brooks’ shop, Brooks Designer Dress Agency in Rose & Crown Walk, was broken into on Christmas Eve, and some �1,700 worth of handbags stolen.

“I think we could all sleep easier if we knew CCTV was watching our shops as I am sure it helps act as a deterrant, especially as there is a serious lack of police presence in the town,” she said.

Johnny Briggs, owner of Johnny and Jenny Briggs in Market Row, had �11,000 worth of designer goods stolen in a three-minute raid in January.

“It is good news for the town,” he said. “Anything that deters thieves from coming to Saffron Walden can only be a good thing. CCTV is intrusive but it is something we’ve learned to live with.”

Saffron Walden’s police inspector also welcomed the news of possible monies being plied into updating the existing scheme.

“The existing CCTV is referred to in relation to virtually all incidents occurring in the town centre,” Kevin Wakefield said. “It is used not only for crime but also other incidents such as when people are reported missing and during any event to enhance public safety.

“However, clearly, there have been considerable advances in camera and associated technology since the original system was installed and the procurement and installation of new equipment would undoubtedly provide even greater practical benefits.

“We have an excellent working relationship with the town council and are fully committed to working with them to produce the best outcome.”

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