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Somerton plans major CCTV upgrade to replace faulty cameras

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

Somerton Town Council clerk Rodger Calderwood in the Market Square which will benefit from plans to upgrade the CCTV system

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A major upgrade of CCTV in Somerton’s town centre is being planned after it was revealed that some of the cameras are not working properly.

The system of ten cameras covers the Market Square and West Street as well the entrances to the town’s carparks.

However, Somerton town councillors heard it is not fully functional because some of the cameras do not work properly and there are issues accessing footage in half of them.

The CCTV images are used to assist Avon and Somerset Police in solving crimes, but there have been two incidents where delays have resulted in film being overwritten.

At a recent meeting, town clerk Rodger Calderwood told councillors on the land and properties committee that there were problems with the cameras at certain locations.

He said: “Some of the cameras are working – but not all of them.

“They have been in place for five or six years and, over the years, we have accumulated problems. Having cameras does act as a deterrent.”

Currently, if there is an incident police will request footage which is then recorded onto a disc, but Mr Calderwood said he does not have immediate access to all the monitors to do this, which causes problems as the cameras rewrite themselves after seven days.

Mr Calderwood said he is only asked for footage three or four times a year, but there have been issues on two occasions, including one when a camera was not functioning.

Committee members were given the option of abandoning the CCTV cameras altogether but this was rejected.

Councillor Tony Jotcham urged: “We need to get them repaired.”

The committee has provisionally set aside £2,000 to cover the cost of the work needed to bring the system back into full operation. The proposal will need to be approved by the full council at the next meeting.

After the meeting committee chairman, Barrie Davies, said the council was committed to CCTV in Market Square and West Street.

There are plans to change the location of one of the cameras to provide more useful footage.

Mr Davies said that although crime was relatively low in the town centre, having cameras makes people feel more secure.

He said: “If people are walking down the High Street on their own they feel protected.

“It acts as a preventative measure and it also allows the police to act effectively if there has been an incident.”

He said one of the reasons some of the cameras were out of action was because they were in commercial premises where tenants have changed.

He said: “Sometimes we cannot view the footage for some reason and the tapes get overwritten. We are now looking into what the cameras view and getting access to the recorded images the next day.

“We will come up with a solution.”

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