Havering CCTV replacement project stalls

Havering Council has made little progress on its £5million project to replace the borough’s CCTV system, which last year was discovered to be plagued by faults.

A report presented to the crime and disorder subcommittee last September revealed almost half of the borough’s council-owned CCTV cameras were found to be faulty the previous June.

Speaking at the time, a council spokesperson insisted this only represented a “snapshot in time” and that faulty cameras were not “necessarily completely broken”.

In March this year, the council committed an estimated £5m towards replacing all the borough’s cameras with a new digital system as part of the 2021/22 budget.

However, speaking before the crime and disorder subcommittee last night, the council’s assistant director of civil protection Julie Chandler revealed the COVID-19 pandemic has had “a huge amount of impact” on the progress of the work.

She told councillors: “Our position at the moment is not a lot further. It’s going to be probably quite a long process, although 18 months may not sound that long to some people.

“We are still undertaking a lot of investigation work on where the cameras will be located [… it] needs to be data-led and have a clear purpose, we can’t just put cameras where we think they might be good. 

“We are also in the process of considering options for the relocation of the control room from Mercury House. The facilities we have now are incredibly cramped.

“Certainly what we will need to do is maintain a CCTV system while other work is going on, we do not want to leave the borough not covered.”

A number of committee members were confused at how the council had arrived at its estimated £5m budget for the project, given it was still in its early stages.

Chandler reassured members that “the bulk of the money has not been spent yet” and that it would be split between the cost of infrastructure and new cameras, as well as securing a larger control room.

She said the number of cameras in the borough “might go up depending on what we find in terms of need” but that some cameras might not be replaced where they are.

Responding to a question about the quality of CCTV images, she said: “All of the new digital cameras we are looking to procure are very high resolution, the clarity is absolutely incredible.”

Last September, the committee received a report showing that 177 out of a total 406 council-owned cameras were found to be faulty. In Romford town centre alone, there were 18 “faulty” CCTV cameras and 30 that were working properly. In the borough’s “housing” areas, there were 151 faulty cameras, plus a further 14 disrupted by redevelopment works.

Speaking at the time, a Havering Council spokesperson said: “Some cameras may have had a fault which could have been resolved in a day, whereas others may have taken longer to repair depending on the issue and the availability of parts.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter