Long awaited upgrade for Havering CCTV system

Havering Council’s “ageing” CCTV system will finally be upgraded, three years after funding was first announced.

The council’s 341 CCTV cameras, some installed more than twenty years ago, are reportedly plagued by faults and use outdated technology.

A survey carried out in 2019 found almost half of the council-owned cameras were faulty, but it was not until early 2021 that the former Conservative administration announced plans for a £5million upgrade.

Senior council officers have since blamed the fact work has yet to begin on “a number of factors”, including the pandemic, public consultation, two reviews and the local elections.

Cabinet member for environment Barry Mugglestone said the upgrade has been “delayed for several years” but added that a change in administration also means a “change in plan”.

This week, Havering’s new HRA-Labour cabinet approved funding for phase one of the upgrade, which will see the CCTV control room and server moved from Mercury House to Romford Library.

The 72 cameras located in Havering’s town centres will also be replaced.

According to a report before cabinet, all of the town centre cameras and a third of cameras watching over council housing are currently monitored by the control room.

If the police need to see footage from one of the other 181 housing cameras, an engineer must travel to the site and download the footage.

Later phases, which are yet to be approved, will see the replacement of the 269 cameras watching over council-managed housing, followed by a wider review of CCTV coverage across the borough.

Havering Council currently spends more than £500,000 per year operating its CCTV cameras, a sum it is looking to reduce as it struggles with an increasingly strained budget.

Potential cost-cutting measures include reducing monitoring hours, using mobile CCTV on housing estates and relocating other council teams to the control room.

Bexley in South London stopped live monitoring of its CCTV to save money in 2016 but neighbouring Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham both have more modern digital cameras that are monitored 24/7.

The report adds: “Although these boroughs have some different community safety priorities to Havering, there is a significant amount of transient crime across the borders, which is more easily addressed through the collaboration in CCTV across the three boroughs.

“Politically it is likely to be very difficult to accept that Havering are the only borough in the tri-borough region without an equivalent service.”

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter