Osterley Neighbourhood Watch (ONW), like any Neighbourhood Watch (NW), is a group of local residents who volunteer their time to assist the police to solve crimes and make the streets safer.
The Hounslow NW Association recently had a presentation on a CCTV project installed in the Ickenham area in Hillingdon (West London) to reduce criminal activities. This project installed high resolution CCTV and ANPR cameras (which capture car number plate details – Automatic Number Plate Recognition), which can provide Police with essential information on unwanted activities at any time of day or night. As a result, it was reported that criminal activities were reduced significantly and a high rate of convictions resulted from evidence provided by the scheme. It is said that residents have been very pleased with the results.
ONW is considering installing a similar system in this area. Cameras would be positioned to cover the road and pavements i.e. public areas of the streets. These would be installed on specific houses with the householder’s agreement (and/or potentially in other locations, such as street maps).
The data captured by the cameras would be stored on a cloud-based system, and would leverage nearby individual householder’s wifi networks (with their agreement) to transfer the data there.
The data captured would be stored on a CCTV system managed by ONW. This would not be monitored or accessed on an ongoing basis; people would not be watching your movements. All information captured by it will only be accessed in response to specific requests, by person(s) trained and qualified for the purpose, and will only be given to and used by the Police. Data will be accessed and extracted either in response to a request from the Police (e.g. has car reg NNNNNN been recorded in the area), or by the Police themselves to gather data after a crime (e.g. following a burglary, they download footage of the perpetrator). It is being funded and run by ONW because the Police do not have the resources or funds themselves, and it is of direct benefit to local residents.
The sole reason for installing this system is to improve safety and reduce crime in your area.
Mo Kassem, the Lead for the NW in our area, is the leader for this initiative across the Hounslow area. His deputy in this is Winston Gordon, the Lead for NW within Hounslow. The initial focus is to launch it within our area of Osterley & Spring Grove, before then rolling it out to other interested areas of Hounslow.
A Public Meeting was held recently to provide more details about this system. A report on this is available here (link to Sky meeting report)
What happens next
The system will be rolled out on a street-by-street basis. ONW are trying to source funds from various sources. However irrespective of whether or not they are successful, any funds they do obtain will not be sufficient to cover the costs of the system. Therefore residents in each street will need to contribute to the costs of the system for their street. Nothing will happen unless in your street unless you push for it. Our local NW consists of a few volunteers (as does every NW) and they do not have the time or resources to canvass for support in every street. Therefore, the overall sequence of steps to get such a system installed in your street are
- Local residents. If you want such a system installed in your street to address problems of crime, ASB, etc. then talk to your neighbours. You can use extracts from this website page to make up a letter to hand to your neighbours / put through their doors. We have found it very helpful to meet people and talk it through with them – though this does take up a lot of time and effort.
- Local residents. When you have verified that there is general support on your street for such an installation, use this pledge letter to get your neighbours to sign and then contact Mo Kassem (see “Neighbourhood Watch” page of this website for contact details).
- ONW. They will then make arrangements for a professional installer to come and undertake a site survey of your street (together with several other streets so as to make this cost-effective). This will result in an estimate of the cost of installing and running the system in your street and the location that the cameras will need to be installed at. Local residents will need to be present for this survey to provide input as to where any key areas are that need to be covered by the system (e.g. crime hot-spots) and where cameras could potentially be installed (i.e. any householders they believe / know would be happy to have the cameras on their property / connected to their wifi).
- Local residents. You will then need to liaise with your neighbours to raise the required amount of money for the camera system in your street.
- ONW. Once the money has been raised, ONW will then make the arrangements to have the system installed in your street and then to operate it.
The first of these systems has now been installed on Thistleworth Close. This is a report from a resident of that street
“This was to be a preventative measure and as necessary can be used as evidence in any criminal prosecution. We would have to fund the cost of the CCTV cameras and installation and neighbours agreed to go for it. We had advice from our local police panel chairman and neighbourhood watch adviser.
We had a ‘site visit’ from the specialist CCTV installer, who identified suitable positions for the cameras. They have done similar work around streets in Ickenham and the rate of ‘petty crime’ and ‘anti-social behaviour’ there has dropped remarkably.
We would be the first street in Osterley to have this CCTV system. Much depends on the layout and design of a street as to where cameras can be fitted, as the cameras focus on the street itself rather than individual properties. LB Hounslow have given consent in principle to ‘plug into’ streetlights for the internet and an electrical supply. In our case, two cameras have been mounted on each of two properties though one will eventually be moved to a streetlight for a better view once we get a specific approval from the council. The cameras give a sharp, clear view of the street and movements of pedestrians and vehicles as well as registration numbers. There are warning signs ‘CCTV in operation’ on fencing and walls.
The cost to householders of the use of the internet and electrical supply is understood to be ‘minimal’ but we will monitor this for a year or so to see if we need to contribute to the cost as a group. The total cost for the installation of two cameras was £3,552 and there is a £100 annual maintenance charge. This worked out at £165 each.
For me, there was some work getting everyone on board, keeping people informed and answering questions, and there are still a couple to chase up…but we are fortunate to have such good neighbours who care about each other and where we live. It was also an advantage that our properties are leasehold and we run our own ‘management company’ so it was fairly easy to make contact with everyone, including landlords of let properties who have also been very supportive and paid their contribution.
Its early days, but what many of us have noticed is that the street has become quieter, with fewer vehicles sitting in parking bays with engines running, a distinct lack of smokers and drinkers standing close to garages and driveways in the dark and less litter! There has been no public announcement but it seems word has got around.”