THATCHAM’S CCTV could be switched back on in an attempt to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Four cameras in the Broadway were turned off in April last year after West Berkshire Council pulled the funding for CCTV across the district, saying it had made little difference in conviction rates.
Thatcham Town Council had agreed, going so far as to tell a police officer concerned about the loss of coverage in the town that it had not helped in the past.
The town council had set aside £17,000 in its budget this year to bring the system back online but did not end up allocating the funds. However, it is now considering spending £14,040 to bring back the crime-fighting tool.
Councillors discussed the spend at a meeting on Monday, including upgrading to 360-degree cameras, an additional two cameras in the Broadway and a wireless link to the Thatcham Town Council offices.
A second option would see West Berkshire Council gift the town’s four cameras and lease the CCTV columns for 1p a year. Line rental would cost around £5,500, plus approximately £3,000 for a server to record the data.
At the meeting, Sheila Ellison (Con, Thatcham North) reiterated that previous trouble in the town centre had not been caught on CCTV as “the wretched camera was looking the wrong way”.
As previously reported in the Newbury Weekly News, Thatcham’s Neighbourhood Police Team have held two operations to tackle anti-social behaviour in the Broadway. A meeting between officers, councillors and businesses has also been held to discuss the issue.
Town mayor Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said that bringing back CCTV had come about because she had been “badgered by police”.
“They said CCTV was the only way they could deal with anti-social behaviour,” she said. “I think it’s a deterrent. We can look at it any time but it’s not monitored. I will be supporting this fully but I appreciate there will be some more questions.”
But Dominic Boeck (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) expressed his doubts.
He said: “I don’t think this is going to fix our anti-social behaviour problem. West Berkshire Council took the decision to decommission the system in Newbury and Thatcham because the benefit being derived wasn’t thought to be worth the money.
“But this system is considerably cheaper,” town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham North) replied. “In economic terms it’s far more efficient.
“I think at the moment the town has problems with anti-social behaviour and it would be good to get something going.”
If approved, the council is considering installing three cameras in the Broadway and one in the High Street.
Councillors voted to go ahead with the £14,000 spend, subject to discussions with Hungerford Town Council, which had its own system, installed by the same company.