(Cabinet Members with Special Responsibility Councillors Hamilton-Cox and Smith)
Report of the Heads of Property Services and Environmental Services.
(Cabinet Members with Special Responsibility Councillors Hamilton-Cox and Smith)
Cabinet received a report from the Head of Property Services and the Head of Environmental Services to provide information to allow consideration of priorities for the Council’s contribution to community safety in 2012/13. The report covered the specific areas of CCTV, PCSOs and other contributions to safety.
The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:
It was clear that greatly reduced budgets available to the public sector would have an impact on the amount that the Council and its partners were able to deliver.
The report clearly set out that with regard to community safety there were a number of conflicting priorities. The information in the report was provided to help Cabinet decide which activities were the ones which would have the greatest impact on the Corporate Plan and Cabinet’s priorities.
Once that had been determined Cabinet could then determine within the context of statutory responsibilities, the Corporate Plan, Cabinet’s priorities and the Council’s budget what level of resources to allocate to them. Because the CCTV system was directly provided and managed by the Council the report detailed very specific options for future provision set out below.
Specific Options for CCTV
No change – this would result in the budget remaining the same for the time being. There would be a need to enter a tender process for the staffing and maintenance functions of the operation and depending on the specification set out, the costs may or may not vary. For the purposes of this report, it has been assumed that costs for this option would remain static and that the contractual obligation for the tender would be three years.
There were no specific advantages, disadvantages or risks associated with this option as it retains the status quo.
Reduction in the number of operating cameras – to achieve this, a view would have to be taken on the areas that would have fewer cameras. This could be based on consultation with the police about those areas that have least crimes and it could for example be geographically based or perhaps based on the cover provided for certain types of property, for example car parks or shopping streets as opposed to residential areas.
Reducing camera numbers would not result in a reduction of staffing unless the cameras which were to be removed were in the busiest urban areas which may therefore reduce the need for double manning on Friday/Saturday evenings, but it would result in a reduction of the maintenance costs. At present this is based on approximately £1,000 per camera and is based on a new for old replacement basis if it is not possible to repair the cameras. Each camera removed from the system would therefore result in a saving of approximately £1,000.
However, it should be noted that the existing maintenance contract was due for immediate renewal if the council decided to retain the system. This might lead to a variation of the contract terms and prices.
Each camera has to be connected to the BT fibre optic network to enable the camera to operate and transmit pictures and in that respect the council is committed to the existing BT contract which runs to 31 March 2013. Even if cameras are taken out of the system, or the system is used less frequently, the contract cost remains payable at the sum of £31,250pa until 31 March 2013.
The advantage of this option was that there could be a small reduction in the council’s costs. However, the potential disadvantage would be that there would be a perception that the fear of crime could increase. It was also possible that crime rates could increase once the knowledge is spread that there are no longer CCTV cameras in the vicinity. A further disadvantage is that detection rates would fall in those areas where cameras were no longer to be in operation.
The risks associated with this option were largely as set out in the above paragraph relating to a potential increase in crime rates and a reduction in detection rates.
Reduction in operating hours – the current system is operated every day of the year from 8.00a.m. each day until 3.00a.m. Working with the police, an analysis of crime patterns in the areas covered by CCTV has been undertaken, and it has been identified that the following hours could be considered for future staffing of the control room:
Monday 12 noon - 8 pm
Tuesday 12 noon - 8 pm
Wednesday 12 noon - 4 am
Thursday 12 noon - 4 am
Friday 12 noon - 4 am
Saturday 9 am - 4 am
Sunday 9 am - 1 am
It should be noted that this was based on single manning of the system at all times rather than having double staff at peak times on Friday/Saturday evenings.
Such a change in working hours would result in potential cost reductions from the current budget of £121,000pa to approximately £74,500pa. This figure could rise to approximately £84,500pa if the view was taken that there should be double staffing at the peak times on Friday/Saturday evenings. In addition to this annual figure, the reduction in staff would also result in potential one-off redundancy costs of between £6K and £27K over the life of any contract. (The variation in redundancy costs would depend upon which operators were made redundant reflecting that we cannot pre-select who would be chosen and therefore the best and worst case scenarios have been identified by Remploy).
In considering this proposal, it was likely that there could be some operational problems identified which could result in the need for operators to be called in to allow police to access information in emergency situations. If that had to be covered by CCTV operators, it was estimated that the additional costs would be approximately £25 per required day plus £21/hr actual call out with a minimum of 4 hours.
The advantages of this option were that the geographic coverage of the CCTV operation remained and the hours of operation were focussed on the main times that crimes were currently committed. The disadvantages were that there could be an increase in crime rates in those hours when the CCTV system was not manned. Similarly detection rates could fall.
The risks associated with this option will again relate to the potential for crime increases and detection rate decreases.
Reduction in camera numbers and operating hours – this option would draw together the detail set out above. The actual savings made would largely depend on the number of hours for which the system operated.
The advantages, disadvantages and risks were as set out in the individual options for reducing camera numbers and reducing operating hours.
Closure of the system – This would result in the termination of all three contracts referred to in the budget.
In terms of the BT contract, as indicated previously, the council would be committed to the payments due until 31 March 2013. In terms of the maintenance contract, it was anticipated that this could be terminated at the end of the financial year or such date that the council determined.
The staffing contract with Remploy could also be terminated at the end of the year provided sufficient notice was given. In this situation, Remploy would be responsible for meeting the entire costs of the redundancies.
However, it would not be possible to leave the cameras “in situ” as the public would be given a false sense of security with the expectation that the cameras were operating when in reality they were not. The cost of camera removal has been estimated at approximately £200 per camera which includes disconnection costs and reinstatement of the surface, provided that there were no unforeseen issues underground. In addition, the entire control room would require dismantling and the space returning to the police for their use. It is estimated that this could cost in the region of £3K. Total costs of this aspect would therefore be £11,400.
The advantages of this option were that there would be a budget saving for the council. However, it should be noted that there would be some ongoing costs due to the timing of the BT contract as referred to above.
The risks of this option were higher than other options which involve a reduction in the operation of the system, but are still related to the potential for crime increases and reductions in crime detections.
The purpose of this report was to provide information to allow consideration of priorities for the Council’s contribution to community safety in 2012/13. Therefore, there were no officer preferred options.
Councillor Smith proposed, seconded by Councillor Sands:-
“(1) That within the context of statutory responsibilities, the corporate plan, Cabinet priorities and the available budget Cabinet recommends the inclusion of one-off growth for up to 9 PCSOs in its budget proposals, assumed to be funded from surplus Balances.
(2) That with regard to CCTV arrangements be made for appropriate Cabinet Members to attend a site visit to the operating centre and Cabinet give further consideration to funding following on from this visit.”
Councillors then voted:-
(1) That within the context of statutory responsibilities, the corporate plan, Cabinet priorities and the available budget Cabinet recommends the inclusion of one-off growth for up to 9 PCSOs in its budget proposals, assumed to be funded from surplus Balances.
(2) That with regard to CCTV arrangements be made for appropriate Cabinet Members to attend a site visit to the operating centre and Cabinet give further consideration to funding following on from this visit.
Officers responsible for effecting the decision:
Head of Property Services
Head of Financial Services
Reasons for making the decision:
Deferring a decision regarding funding for CCTV to enable a site visit will enable Cabinet members to make a more informed decision regarding possible impact on quality of service that may result from revisions to funding.