Fresh criticism of Cambs Police over CCTV funding row

POLICE have refused to give a detailed explanation as to why they will not help pay for CCTV despite repeated criticism of their actions.

Cambridgeshire Police has come under fire from senior local authority figures in recent weeks because it will not contribute towards the district’s 93-camera network scheme, which costs �300,000-a-year to run.

Huntingdonshire District Council, which in the past has funded the entire system, was considering mothballing CCTV to save costs, but has since approached parish and town councils, and the police for help.

Last year police used the district’s CCTV 800 times and cameras monitored almost 2,300 offences.

The district council’s executive leader Jason Ablewhite said that stern letters needed to be sent to senior police officers about their decision to duck out of funding the system.

And last week Huntingdon town councillor Colin Hyams accused the police of ‘dodging their responsibility’ and urged the council not to provide funding.

Chief Constable Simon Parr declined to give an interview when approached by the Hunts Post, but released a short written statement, in which he reiterated the force was unable to offer funds because of ongoing budget cuts.

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Cambridgeshire Police must shed �30m by April 2014, which amounts to 20 per cent of its existing budget.

Mr Parr wrote: “We have made our position quite clear to the district council that we are simply not in a position to make any new financial contributions to running the CCTV service.

“That said, we do recognise the importance of CCTV and will continue to work with partner agencies to develop new ways of providing such a service.

“Our priority remains protecting frontline policing and targeting criminals.”

Other officers were also not able to comment further according to the police’s press office.

Cllr Ablewhite described Cambridgeshire Police as a “closed shop” and added the loss of CCTV could, in the end, cost the force more money.

He said: “It [CCTV] saves them money in the long term because nine times out of ten when they have criminal activity, they have got people bang to rights on the screen.

“Someone will swap coats or say ‘It wasn’t me, it was someone else’, and they can say ‘There you are on the screen.

“Everything is dealt with quicker, and so there are savings to be had for the police. They save costs through using CCTV so they might be better-off finding available funds. Otherwise local police could be more expensive.”

Cllr Hyams pointed to the vital role CCTV is currently playing in identifying the culprits behind the London riots, and urged the police to think again.

“I do not expect them to fund all of it. Lets be truthful over their usage and HDC – we use it for our car parks, from which we get revenue.

“As a town council, we want people to visit our town and CCTV is part of that.

“But crime is their responsibility – that is what they are there for to patrol the streets. CCTV is crime prevention.”