Council vows to back ‘invaluble’ CCTV system

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LARNE Council has pledged to continue its financial backing for CCTV cameras located at violent crime “hot spots” in the town centre.

For the past three years, the local authority has provided £6,250 towards the monitoring of three cameras in the town - one at Broadway and two on High Street. It is hoped that a fourth camera will be positioned to cover Upper and Lower Cross Street, depending on funding becoming available once the Town Hall refurbishment is completed.

While the PSNI is responsible for the operation and monitoring of the CCTV system, the contribution from Larne Council has ensured that the cameras are monitored at weekends and other peak activity times.

And it has been revealed that the cameras may now be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to police, the Larne CCTV system have been an “invaluable” resource in the battle against crime and disorder in the town centre.

A PSNI report stated that, as well as reducing the number of recorded incidents of crime, the cameras have served to increase the crime detection rate, gather evidence for locating missing people and monitor parades.

Between June 2010 and September 2011, police claimed that CCTV recordings in Larne were “pivotal” in the criminal investigation process, helping to identify and apprehend offenders, as well as corroborating evidence.

The locations of the three cameras have been identified by police as “hot spots” for violent crime, and the system is monitored by the PSNI in Londonderry. Currently, footage is viewed as a matter of course every time a crime takes place in the town centre, and the system is also viewed about 15-20 times a month for evidential recordings.

At a meeting of Larne Council’s development committee on Monday, director of development Linda McCullough told members that one of the main reasons the cameras had been installed was “to promote community confidence and public safety”.

“The CCTV scheme is complemented by the Town Centre TradeWatch scheme, which provides radios for town centre traders and the PSNI to share useful information about suspicious activity, perceived threats, crime and anti-social behaviour,” said Mrs McCullough.

The director recommended that the council should continue to contribute £6,250 towards the provision of CCTV cameras in the town for a further three year period.

Members agreed to accept the officer’s recommendations, with Councillor Roy Craig concluding: “The public has felt much safer since these cameras were introduced.”