The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change presented a report providing Cabinet with the background, current position statement and a proposal to recommend to Council the inclusion of a budget of £595,000 within the capital programme for implementing the Smarter Borough – Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) proposal. She explained that the existing CCTV system across the borough had been in service for 20 years, during which time several upgrades had been carried out to keep it operational without incurring large sums of expenditure. The system had now reached the point where the equipment was at the end of its working life and compatibility issues were becoming more and more frequent as replacement parts were no longer being manufactured resulting in cameras being decommissioned.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change explained that the Council’s CCTV service helped the Council and Police perform a one public sector approach to prevent and tackle priority issues such as anti-social behaviour, violence, theft and made a significant impact on residents’ perception of safety. The CCTV provision in Bridgend County Borough had clearly contributed to reducing the overall crime rates in the area and this was evidenced from the incident figures from June 2017 to May 2019 which indicated that the CCTV service provided by BCBC successfully aided the investigation of 1484 incidents in Bridgend, 146 incidents in Maesteg, 89 incidents in Porthcawl, and 29 incidents in Pencoed. The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) had recently indicated he may be willing to make an ongoing contribution to a sustainable service. Discussions were currently ongoing alongside discussions with Welsh Government and Central Government around a capital contribution towards the Smarter Borough – Closed Circuit Television proposal.
The Head of Partnerships explained that any upgrade of the CCTV provision would be compliant with the Information Commissioner’s Office CCTV Code of Practice and data protection legislation. He outlined the current annual revenue costs of running the 24/7 CCTV service as in paragraph 8.2 of the report. It was anticipated that under the new proposal, the total of the ongoing network, maintenance and software costs would be reduced by £20,000 per annum subject to a successful procurement exercise.
The Head of Partnerships explained a Smart Borough would help the Council monitor and manage resources, with an end goal of saving time and money. Existing networks and services would be made more efficient through the use of digital technologies for the benefit of residents and businesses in the area. These technologies would help deliver better traffic management, smart parking, improved water and waste services, more efficient lighting and energy use in buildings and safer infrastructure, among other benefits. The Council could provide a Wi-Fi service by overlaying Wi-Fi services onto the existing CCTV infrastructure. Adopting a “free and unlimited public usage” model would encourage users to visit the Council’s Wi-Fi landing page to access information and services safely.
The Cabinet Member for Communities thanked the officers for the report and for the news that discussions were ongoing with the Police and Crime Commissioner as he believed the police were one of the major beneficiaries of the CCTV system. The proposals went considerably further than the current CCTV system and could be seen as the first steps in creating a wifi borough. He was excited to see how this development could take the Borough forward in terms of partnership working and services for residents.
The Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help was particularly excited as one of the Members for the Town Centre and the improvements to resident’s perception of safety in the town. She felt strongly about free wifi coverage which was a right for everyone and this had been particularly important during the recent lockdown in helping families to access digital content.
The Leader agreed and added that CCTV provision was an essential tool in terms of community safety and the prevention of crime across the borough.
The Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations agreed with the comments made and asked for reassurance around GDPR and civil liberties because it could be a concern to some residents. The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change replied that the proposal was not dissimilar to what we currently had and as it progressed, the authority would go through GDPR rules and regulations. The Head of Partnerships added that in terms of CCTV provision it would be compliant with the Information Commissioners Office.
The Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations asked for a further report when the plans were developed. The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change explained that the intention was to take the report to Council in June and subsequent to that to secure a provider to put the network in and from that point they would be coming back with different options.
The Leader added that they were regulated by a comprehensive legislative framework and had to record and register use in a specific way and CCTV could only be used for certain purposes requiring permission from designated officers within organisation. This was to ensure transparency.
The Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help asked about adding additional cameras to the system for issues such as parking outside schools and asked if there was capacity for schools to buy in to ensure public safety and also mobile cameras for hotspots. The Group Manager for Transformation and Customer Services replied that building the CCTV infrastructure and upgrading it would give the opportunity to look at sighting mobile cameras to cover potential problems and antisocial behaviour including parking. This would be part of the second phase. He confirmed that they would be using the latest technology and IP cameras with improved technology to give better images and more coverage which would be critical in terms of crime detection and prosecution.
The Deputy Leader added that the authority had squeezed every last bit of life from the current system which was valued by both the police and public. Residents were reassured that they and their children were being protected. This was far more than a CCTV renewal programme and about creating a smart county borough. The opportunities were exciting and of benefit to local citizens.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet considered the report and recommended a report to Council approving the inclusion of the Smarter Borough – Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) proposal within the capital programme with a budget of £595,000.