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'Under-served' New Milton seeking greater CCTV camera cover

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New Milton area has only seven CCTV cameras
New Milton area has only seven CCTV cameras

CALLS were made for Ashley to receive CCTV coverage amid complaints New Milton and surrounding areas are “under-served” by camera provision.

The issues were raised as the town council heard a presentation from New Forest District Council representatives about forming a service level agreement (SLA) with town and parish councils regarding its CCTV cameras.

Out of the 56 NFDC-owned CCTV cameras operating across the district, only seven are located in the New Milton area – the same as in Hythe. However, Lymington has 17, while Ringwood and Totton both have 12. Lyndhurst has one.

Now, the town council is hoping that it can secure one of the soon-to-be-launched mobile CCTV units for deployment in Ashley, with the recreation ground cited as a particular spot. Other areas requiring coverage could also be served on a rotation basis.

Addressing a full town council meeting, NFDC civil contingencies and CCTV manager James Knight listed the benefits camera coverage provided to communities.

As well as the deterrent to criminals, these included boosting the economy by giving businesses more confidence to operate in monitored areas.

Mr Knight explained that under the SLA being formed, NFDC would be able to assist town and parish councils with third party reviews of CCTV footage following any incidents. This would involve the footage being handed over to insurance companies.

Town councillors were told there were 1,018 incidents in which the district council’s CCTV cameras had been used in 2017, with 84% of these being at the request of the police.

During that same year, 91 arrests had been monitored by CCTV, with 50 of these being as a direct result of the cameras.

Mr Knight added the CCTV operators were set to move into a new control room in Lyndhurst, currently being built only about 30 yards from their current base. As well as being more open than the old one, which does not have any windows, he said the new building would have a customer services facility.

Responding to the presentation, Cllr Steve Clarke said: “When you do the figures, New Milton has got seven cameras.

“We are, I claim, the biggest centre of accommodation in the New Forest, with a population of around 26,000 people. I just feel that we are a little bit under-served in that way.”

Referring to the need for CCTV coverage in Ashley, amenities committee chairman Cllr Geoffrey Blunden described the area as “a major part of New Milton”.

He suggested the town council could look into putting together a business case to have a camera placed there, and this could be one of the new mobile cameras being trialled by NFDC.

Mr Knight replied that the possibility of adding a camera in Ashley could be discussed as part of the SLA agreement, but added a mobile camera could be the best idea.

Brian Byrne, NFDC service manager for housing estates management and support, explained the mobile camera trials were benefiting from some funding by Hampshire Police. He stressed policing was just one part of community safety, while CCTV was another.

“The information that comes through is all built together to look at emerging trends and to look at pooling resources,” Mr Byrne said.

“By us doing more work with the police, we can free up more resources.

“Currently, the only option I have where I’ve identified a vulnerability in a dwelling is to move that person out. But remote cameras can be used to start targeting issues emerging in residential areas to provide assurance.”

However, he added: “We don’t want people to think we’re saying that CCTV is the answer to everything – it’s a part of the solution.”

Town councillors agreed that the possibility of purchasing a mobile CCTV camera should be discussed at the next amenities committee meeting, although mayor Cllr David Rice-Mundy voiced concern over what the running costs might be.

Cllr Clarke concluded: “Potentially, this could be a very good resource for us, and as we are a forward-thinking council, this could be quite good for us.”

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