Review into Biggleswade, Sandy and Shefford’s dated CCTV system

A CCTV control room  (libary image).
A CCTV control room (libary image).

A detailed review is being undertaken into the future of the dated CCTV system which monitors crime in Biggleswade.

Central Beds Council has received a draft consultant’s report looking at the possibility of upgrading the old cameras to provide better image quality and using WiFi technology which would reduce operating costs.

But the Chronicle understands there are serious doubts about whether the council will be able to find the finance to make the changes to the legacy system it inherited from the former South Beds District Council.

The authority has about 90 cameras at its Dunstable control room covering the west of the district, with another 15 in Stevenage which monitor Biggleswade, Sandy and Shefford.

Central Beds officers have provided several verbal updates to local councils on the way forward in recent months.

A summary of one recent visit from CBC’s Steve Barrett, reads: “At over ten years of age, the equipment is now fairly dated.

“A full review is underway to determined options for taking CCTV forward, for example using wireless technology and High Definition cameras.”

The summary adds that recommendations would be presented to CBC during the current financial year “but that as the project potentially represented a significant investment, the scope and timescale of any future changes were as yet unknown”.

Although the current CCTV system is at capacity, it is still possible for the control room to monitor new redeployable cameras on a 3G signal.

A spokesman for Central Beds Council told the Chronicle the council was in the “early stages” of reviewing its current CCTV infrastructure.

He added: “The review includes all the CCTV cameras we either own or have contractual responsibilities for providing a monitoring service.

“It includes the 15 CCTV cameras owned by Central Bedfordshire Council, Biggleswade Town Council, Sandy Town Council and Shefford Town Council which are currently monitored by Herts CCTV Partnership at Stevenage. The town councils are aware of our intention to complete the review.

“The current system has had some upgrades and camera replacements since it was first installed but the review will also consider how the system may need upgrading.

“Our CCTV already provides images that inform and support prosecutions, but technological advancements in CCTV offer the opportunity to enhance the quality of evidential images.

“The review will look at potential costs of improvements and these will inform discussions on budget availability. At this early stage, though, no decision has been made about upgrading the system.”

A Beds Police spokesman said: “As a force we work closely with local authorities, as well as private businesses and individuals, to seek out all CCTV evidence of criminality and also have a real-time feed of council cameras into our Force Control Room.

“We welcome any initiative to improve the provision of CCTV as it plays an important role in fighting crime and tackling antisocial behaviour.

“Across Bedfordshire we have an excellent relationship with our partners in requesting CCTV and will continue to work together to protect people going forward.”