A powerful tool in the fight against crime has been lost in Lancaster because CCTV cameras are now unmanned.
In a ‘massive blow to the city’ this week according to Pubwatch chairman Tim Tomlinson, the plug has been pulled on staff manning the CCTV cameras due to financial pressures and reductions in funding.
The city council have only approved funding until September when the system will be turned off completely unless further cash is found.
The cameras are vital for crime prevention not just at night but during the day when shoplifters, street drinkers and drug takers may be in the city, said Tim.
He said: “People won’t see the impact until it’s too late. It’s the eyes and ears of everyone and for people to talk to each other before something is a concern We share information and this does make it more dificult.”
CCTV is an immensely useful resource in terms of preventing disorder. in the city centre, said Tim.
He said: “It is a very powerful tool in the prevention and management of incidents in the city centre. Shoplifting and some of the issues associated with street drinkers and drug takers can also be targeted. Lancaster is a very attractive city to visit day or night andthe CCTV cut is a massive blow. It’s a big, big worry.
Mark Cutter, landlord of The Apothecary, said: “I think its bad that we are not going to have it but at least its still recording which is a key thing.
“The CCTV plays a big part in safety in the nighttime economy. Its not just to prevent crime but its for general safeguarding and wellbeing. It will be completely turned off in six months time if we don’t find a solution”
Mark Davies, chief officer (environment), on Lancaster City Council said: “Funding to monitor the CCTV cameras in Lancaster and Morecambe came to an end on March 31 due to the financial pressures the council currently faces.
“However, the cameras continue to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for community safety purposes and the footage is still available for police to use in prosecutions and investigations.”
Chairman of the Chamber of Trade John O’Neill said: “We are still working towards finding a working solution for when the CCTV is finally turned off in September. We are hard at work with our partners to come up with a solution going forward.”