On Tuesday, 12 February, the local Neighbourhood Watch (NW) held a very informative and useful public meeting, organised on their behalf by OWGRA, at Sky’s offices on Grant Way. Over 90 people attended and heard presentations from the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH), the local Police and the Neighbourhood Watch, followed by a lengthy Question and Answer (Q&A) session.
Dwayne Ewart, LBH CCTV Manager, first explained what they are doing regarding CCTV coverage of Hounslow. Their cameras are typically some 7 years old, and no longer fit for purpose. They have secured a budget to replace all their cameras with up-to-date HD ones, and to centralise all their CCTV surveillance at a new 24/7 centre staffed by 18 personnel in Brentford. These cameras are used for Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement (with Public Safety being the more important one). Their cameras are principally located on public areas (e.g. parks, shopping centres) and council-owned residential accommodation. They also have a couple of dozen movable cameras that they move around to crime hotspots across the borough as required.
Sergeant Massey and PC Scully then explained the police’s use of CCTV cameras, with theirs being concentrated on major roads. They also work with LBH to access their systems when following up on specific incidents. However, their funding for additional cameras is strictly limited.
So there is a sizable gap in camera coverage between domestic systems covering individual properties, and the Police & LBH systems, with residential roads and alleyways (such as those in our area) not covered. Both LBH and the Police confirmed that they did not have any funding for cameras for residential roads (such as our roads) and that they would definitely support any initiative to install and operate such a camera system.
Mo Kassem of the local NW then presented the proposal to install and operate a network of CCTV and ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras on residential roads and other (currently un-covered) areas such as open spaces and alleyways across our area. Funding for this would come from residents, plus other sources as available (companies in the area, lottery, etc.). Information from the system (downloaded footage, etc.) would only be provided to the Police following a request from them – no-one else would have access to that information.
A Q&A session then followed, with residents raising a number of questions of the speakers. The summary of the meeting was that:
- there was general support from residents for such a system to address the rising levels of Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) that we are seeing in the area – subject to clear evidence that such systems are effective in reducing this
- residents would be able to decide on a street-by-street basis whether such a system would be installed in their street, with any rollout being therefore on a street-by-street basis. The system would not be installed in a street if there was any significant opposition expressed from residents in that street
- opportunities for leveraging the LBH infrastructure (their buying power, their CCTV surveillance centre, etc.) should be investigated and used where possible
- any such system should allow for upcoming technology advances, and be as future-proof as possible (i.e. don’t use technology which will be obsolete in a year or so).
The meeting thanked Sky for kindly allowing the use of one of their meeting rooms for this event, and for providing refreshments before the meeting.