Warminster and Westbury CCTV
Warminster and Westbury CCTV partnership is overseen by a working group of representatives from Warminster Town Council, Westbury Town Council, Wiltshire Council, the Army, Wiltshire Police, West Wilts Trading Estate and local businesses. Its success is built on special relationships between these partners to deliver a service to the community.
CCTV: An Insight
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a CCTV operator? Successful CCTV Operators are mindful, alert, and scrupulous individuals who are highly dedicated to protecting others. They have the ability to quickly identify patterns and abnormalities. They work calmly and methodically in often fast-moving situations.
What does a CCTV operator do on an average day? A standard shift might cover scanning screens for: missing persons, anti-social behaviour, road traffic accidents, shoplifting, drunk and disorderly, assaults, drug abuse, domestic violence, drink driving, dangerous driving, or movement of drugs through the area.
No shift is ever the same and incidents do not occur in the same place or time. The operator must observe all the monitors and look for things that do not appear right. On finding one of these the operator takes a closer look to decide if there is anything untoward. When an incident is found the operator will then inform the police who will allocate an officer to the incident. The operator will continue observing the area and keep the police informed of anything happening at the scene and if the perpetrators leave the scene, which direction they go in. If the police attend, an operator keeps on watching, protecting any officers who may be on the scene.
The police often contact CCTV for help with incidents for example, tracking a vehicle.
Businesses that are part of the local shopwatch scheme will contact the control room to report shoplifting. The operator will then alert all others on the shopwatch network as to what is happening. Similarly, door staff and pubwatch members keep in contact with CCTV and the Police, all working together to make our area safer.
Often people forget that CCTV is there or ignore it, but the presence of cameras means individuals may be caught on camera for possible legal proceedings. It is hard to argue in court it wasn’t you when the footage shows it was. When incidents are occurring, often a second operator will be working, as multiple cameras may need to be watched and moved, the radios need answering, possibly the phone as well.
The observation side of the control room is only one part of the operation. Police ask for footage of events. This requires a proper process and procedure to be followed and so good record keeping is another part of a CCTV operators skill set. Following a police request, the operator will the review camera footage, using times, dates and location to find the incident. Relevant footage can then be safely and securely passed to the Police.
Warminster and Westbury CCTV have covered every possible crime and has great success with bringing some nasty incidents to court.
CCTV operator is not a job that everyone can do, but if you are interested, CCTV is always on the lookout for volunteers. Obviously, volunteers must undergo training and pass a security check, but if you feel you could spare some time on a regular basis to help keep our community safer, contact Warminster Town Council and they will be in touch.
CCTV: The History
The original idea for installing a CCTV system in Warminster stemmed from a Government initiative in 1996 which encouraged town centres to install systems and offered partial funding from the Home Office to tackle anti-social behaviour.
A bid to the Home Office was submitted and supported by the police who had the necessary crime statistics which highlighted the need for a system. The cost of installation was £135K for nine external cameras. In addition they needed
poles and brackets to support them, internal video recorders, monitoring desks, printers and telephone lines.
Warminster Town Council received £67K from the Home Office towards the costs.
In 1999 the first CCTV supervisor was appointed. George Witts stayed in post until his untimely death in 2005. The equipment had not yet been installed, but George had the task of putting together the first operations manuals, codes of conduct and advertised for volunteers. Historically volunteers have played a great part in the running of CCTV, but over the last few years we have changed considerably the work that is required on a day-to-day basis and the volunteers are now highly trained to deal with all aspects of monitoring and auditing. We are always grateful to those that volunteer and in addition we have paid monitoring staff who cover a wide variety of shifts.
In 1999 a second initiative followed the success of the first Home Office campaign with more funding for car parks which were suffering from anti-social behaviour. Warminster Town Council was successful with another bid and three additional cameras went into the town. The next area to be tackled was the Park. New lighting was needed as well as cameras and the old West Wilts District Council paid for this and continued to pay for the line rental on the installed camera. Wiltshire Council now pays this rental.
In 2003/2004 a new camera was installed in Emwell Street which meant that all entrances into the town centre were now covered.
Westbury Town Council decided that they too would like a system installed, and when they investigated the costs it was found to be cheaper for them to purchase their own equipment but have it installed into Warminster Town Council’s control room. They make a financial contribution for the running of their equipment. We also monitor the entrance cameras for West Wilts Trading Estate.
There is no doubt that we accept CCTV as part of our daily lives. There is an expectation that to make us feel safe we need the security of cameras. We have to ensure that we observe codes of practice to operate the scheme in line with good ethical practice and that it is not open to the abuse of individuals civil rights and privacy. The primary objective of the scheme is to provide a safer town centre environment for the general public and reduce the fear of crime. CCTV is about prevention, deterrence and detection of crime whilst at the same time safeguarding the privacy of law-abiding individuals. It shall not be used to invade the privacy of any such individual in residential business or other private premises building or land.
To build on the system we have, the future is digital and wireless. We have already converted the management of our main system to digital and a new wireless camera has been installed at Portway. This is supported by new equipment in our control room. Four new wireless cameras have also been installed in the Three Horseshoes Walk for the current owners Stockland. Warminster Town Council monitor and manage these additional cameras.
In 2014, the CCTV team received well-deserved recognition for their work across Warminster and Westbury at the PCC Neighbourhood Policing Awards. They were presented with a runner-up award for Volunteer of the Year 2014, beating a large number of organisations from across the local area. It was noted that the CCTV team “provide a professional day to day operation as well as supporting the big events in the area. Warminster and Westbury Town Councils could not provide this excellent CCTV operation without its dedicated team of volunteers.”