Picture this… eventually

Last September, I commented on plans to set-up a central control room to monitor CCTV footage from the town centre that was acknowledged as being of questionable value. Almost a year later, and Swindon’s lollipop fans, the Swindon Community Safety Partnership, are once again talking about setting up a central CCTV control room, plus at least five more cameras to add to the forty already in existence in the town centre.

For someone who’s a volunteer policeman, Mr Palusinski, head of the Safety Partnership, has an almost criminal disregard for evidence.

The new system won’t be a case of Big Brother watching you – it is to tackle issues of crime and disorder in the town while making residents and shoppers feel safe.

Err… regardless of what it’s being used for, unless the control centre is left empty and unused, it will be a case for the big-brother state watching.

These area may be parts of the town that are heavily affected by violent crime, graffiti or purse dippings and aren’t covered by sufficient surveillance.

So that’s CCTV being used to monitor the crimes that the evidence shows it’s least effective in tackling (i.e. anything other than theft from cars in car parks).

The amount of money that will be spent on updating the network will be far outweighed by the savings that will be made by having one central control room instead of having to communicate with several different agencies.

Given that the Safety Partnership’s own report acknowledged that 80% of CCTV footage is of questionable value, it seems to me that the money spent updating the network will be a waste of money.

I’ve been monitoring the ‘initiatives’ of the Swindon Community Safety Partnership for over eighteen months now. I’ve yet to see anything that suggests their naïve leadership are doing anything other than wasting Swindon taxpayers’ money.

Update, Monday, 24 August 2009: To reinforce my point, an internal police report has found that of London’s more than a million CCTV cameras, only 1 in 1000 contributes to solving a crime each year. So Swindon’s cameras are likely to be useful less than once every 20 years.