YOU are now being watched again in Thatcham town centre – and police are already analysing footage of crime.
The town’s CCTV cameras have just been switched back on for the first time in 18 months.
They were disconnected in April 2016, as part of West Berkshire Council’s plan to save £18.5m.
However, Thatcham Town Council has spent £14,000 to supply four cameras – two fixed and two 360- degree – in the Broadway and High Street.
The footage is not monitored, but is recorded and available for police to review.
And the cameras have already been put to use – as they captured a hit-and-run in the Broadway at Hallowe’en.
Speaking after a recent town council meeting, town mayor Ellen Crumly said that local police officers were pleased that the “nasty incident” had been captured on film.
“It seems it has already come into use, which is really good,” she said.
The four cameras in the Broadway, along with others in the district, were turned off in April last year after the district council said that CCTV had made little difference to conviction rates.
Despite a Thatcham policeman outlining his concerns about the crime-fighting tool being cut, councillors said that the result was not worth the £19,888 (£4,972 per camera), with £14,636 for monitoring, that West Berkshire Council paid for Thatcham’s cameras.
The town council set aside £17,000 in its 2016/17 budget to bring back CCTV – but later ruled against it.
However, following meetings between the police, businesses and councillors to address anti-social behaviour in the Broadway, the town council proposed spending £14,040 on the system.
Speaking about the decision, town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham North) said: “It’s what our local police said was most useful for them.
“They now have the ability to come in here [the town council offices in Brownsfield Road] and see recordings, which it has already been used for.
“It helps our police be able to look after our streets.”
Mr Collis said that the cost of the cameras was much more efficient than what West Berkshire Council had been paying, while the new cameras were of “significantly better quality”.
Liberal Democrat opposition leader Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) said that the decision “appeared to be a huge about-turn”, but one he would support.
He said: “The local bobby told us he thought it would make his job easier. Anything we can do to make his job easier, providing it’s cost effective, is worth doing.
“It also gives residents and shopkeepers comfort knowing it’s there.
“If it reduces the fear of crime locally and makes the bobby on the beats job easier and improves conviction rates or prevents people doing things because they know they are being monitored, I’m supportive of it.
“But we will see what effect it has.
“If it has no effect and there’s no value to it, it might be pointless to continue.”