Local businesses that are part of the nighttime economy are calling for 24 hour CCTV coverage in the city ahead of the council’s budget meeting on Monday (17th January 2022).
The topic of more CCTV was a key point of discussion at the community conference on women’s safety held at The Chapel towards the end of last year.
Speaking to Love Salisbury at the conference Darren Peterson, business manager for SP4 Security said, “I have worked in the nighttime economy in Salisbury for about 20 years and I would say at the moment the weakest part of the night economy is our lack of our CCTV being 24/7.
“We used to have an extra person watching over us at all times managing our safety, managing the safety of our clients and turning away perpetrators. The training given to the CCTV operatives allows them to alert us to issues before they have even got to us. They have that visible eye that we haven’t.”
Currently, Salisbury’s CCTV coverage is jointly funded by Salisbury City Council and Salisbury BID. ‘Salisbury CCTV’ has been operating the system since September 2018, when it was passed from Wiltshire Council to Salisbury City Council.
Salisbury BID invest £25,000 a year into the city’s CCTV coverage, with the system reportedly costing around £50,000 a year to run on a voluntary basis.
At present, the proposed revenue budget for the financial year 2022/23 sees no additional funding for CCTV and no mention of the council renewing its contract with Venture Security, which work to prevent anti-social behaviour in the city. However, the council are expected to dedicate £30,000 to more CCTV cameras in the budget for 2024/25.
According to the leaflet provided at the community conference hosted by the Salisbury Soroptimists and Safer and Supportive Salisbury, the CCTV system is monitored by one part-time manager, two part-time operators (whose main role is to train new volunteers), and 26 volunteers. The CCTV system is monitored at ‘key times’ in the communications hub inside the CCTV control room at Bourne Hill.
The coverage is also relied upon by Wiltshire Police, who in 2019 reportedly requested the CCTV team to review 332 incidents, with 71% providing evidential footage. Despite this, the police do not contribute to funding the service.
Calls from local businesses in the nighttime economy
Tony Wetherington, owner of Enigma security further commented, “I think CCTV is a vital part of the city for the safety of everyone, daytime and night-time. I think if you had paid people there it would be a more dedicated force and more professional people.”
Ellie Butcher, a psychologist working in the security sector said she believes that CCTV should be 24/7 in the city because it supports so many aspects of Salisbury.
“CCTV should be 24/7 because it backs up so many aspects of Salisbury, it backs up the nightlife, the people that work there, and the police. It benefits too many people for it not to be 24/7.”
Rebecca Hart works at the Old Ale and Coffee House, for Rebecca, 24/7 CCTV coverage would make her feel safer.
“I have had stages where I haven’t felt safe walking to my car, so having that CCTV there would make me feel safer in my hometown.”
“It’s not only those enjoying a night out but those walking back from a dinner, or walking back to the car at night. Being a woman and feeling more vulnerable, it’s important to have that layer of protection,” added Ellie.
Natalie Down from Kludo and Ink said, “I think we should have 24 hour CCTV, not only as a deterrent from crimes but also to help keep everyone safe. It will help us to protect our customers after they leave the venue and make sure people get to the taxi rank safely.
“It would be really helpful to have someone to change the camera locations and to keep an eye on what’s generally going on in the town. It’s also a huge help for police prosecution and providing evidence as well.
“I would like to see some more cameras around the city because I know there are places where there are blind spots like down the side alleys, big roads, and in car parks, so making sure that the city centre is flooded with CCTV would be so helpful,” added Natalie.
Response from the Council
In response to these calls, Victoria Charleston, council leader for the Liberal Democrats said, “There is no further funding in the budget this year for CCTV. There are plans in the capital budget to increase things around CCTV in particular areas, but we are also talking to other partners that could support CCTV as well. So, we are definitely keen to contribute to safety around the city and CCTV.
“CCTV is one part of the jigsaw of how we keep Salisbury Safer. I was really pleased with some of the ideas that came out of the Safer Salisbury Conference and the City Council is going to play an integral role in some of that work as well. Looking at our CCTV system is vital and as we are able to fund more, and as people’s ideas of what they want become clearer, then let’s look into that.”
On behalf of the joint council leadership, Annie Riddle, Victoria Charleston and Ian Tomes commented, “The council administration is very appreciative of Venture Security’s work in minimising problems with street drinkers and anti-social behaviour generally, as well as in assisting the wider public and visitors to the city. They dealt with more than 2,600 incidents in 2021.
“At present funding is allocated to them for another year, and as the expiry date approaches the contract will be reviewed, just as any contract would. We cannot guarantee at this stage that there will be funding available to renew it without raising taxes or cutting another service, but we will be exploring all options to maintain city centre security and we are delighted that the Police Commissioner is committed to improving the police service for Salisbury.
“More CCTV cameras and operatives would undoubtedly make the city safer and that is why we have allocated £30,000 for more cameras in the budget for 2024/25. Obviously, we have to manage tight budgets. If circumstances change, we will look again at the timing.”