AN extra £10,000 is being ploughed into Worcester’s CCTV system as the city gears up for a busy year.
The city council’s Conservative leadership has agreed to ring-fence the cash into a special kitty so that extra staff can be handed shifts to monitor the camera network.
The imminent opening of the Worcester Arena – a £15 million 2,000-seater sports facility in Hylton Road – and attractions at the Hive and the city’s growing nightlife means more and more people are expected to enjoy what Worcester has to offer.
During a meeting of the Conservative cabinet, it was agreed to stump up the money so extra staff could be on hand to look at cameras during busy periods. This follows a request by Labour councillor Joy Squires who said it would help people visiting the city feel safe.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, the city council’s leader, said: “Over the last year we’ve had the Queen’s visit, the Olympic Torch relay, we’ve had to respond to the opening of the Hive and generally there doesn’t seem to be a problem with CCTV.
“But safety is important, as is people’s perception of safety, and monitoring of the cameras is part of that. While I don’t think there is evidence of a problem, we are minded to put this small resource in as a buffer. Safety is one of the council’s key priorities and if this helps reassure people, we are happy to do it.
“It means that for planned events we’ve got a reserve we can dip into.”
Coun Jabba Riaz, the cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: “From a city point of view we’ve dem-onstrated that we are cap-able of ensuring the safety of our citizens. Safety is part of the police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore’s plan and I’ll be feeding into this as part of that process.”
Cameras in Worcester are looked at 24 hours a day by dedicated staff at Pershore’s civic centre after workers were relocated there from the police’s Castle Street base in 2011. Following the move the council slashed funding from £150,000 a year to £40,000.
Around six staff look at 100 cameras at the civic centre covering Worcester, Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore, but as they work shifts only some are on duty at any one time.