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£100,000 'urgently' needed to upgrade CCTV in Inverness

By Louise Glen

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Cllr Duncan Macpherson.
Cllr Duncan Macpherson.

£100,000 is "urgently" needed to upgrade CCTV in Inverness, a community safety committee has heard.

Councillor Duncan Macpherson, Inverness South, who raised the issue last year after seeing a vicious mass brawl on Castle Street said the money to find the upgrade must be found.

There is also a call for the CCTV control room, currently paid for by Highland Council and run out of a room in Burnett Road police station, to be extended to include cameras watching over Kessock Bridge and the main traffic routes in the city centre.

In a meeting, a senior council officer told the Community Safety Partnership that 28 analogue cameras "urgently need to be replaced" from analogue to digital at a cost of £50,000. While he said that 15 cameras, that had not been working, have already been replaced.

It is understood that the money for the CCTV cameras will be applied for from The Inverness Common Good Fund.

A further £50,000 is required for the refurbishment of the control room. At the meeting, the officer said he was planning to source the money to upgrade the CCTV control room from underspends throughout the council area. The officer said: "Anything I can get hold of."

The partnership heard that there is also a plan to expand the number of cameras. As well as having staff to provide 24–hour cover, rather than the limited hours staff are currently working. It is hoped to work in partnership with other local authority areas to provide CCTV control room coverage. It was suggested that as well as providing cover for cameras in Thurso and Wick, its services could also be provided for Orkney and the Western Isles.

Concerns were raised about Kessock Brdge - as there is currently no CCTV cameras that are linked to the police or the council.

Councillor Duncan Macpherson, who is a member of the Community Safety Partnership, said: "I warmly welcome the news that the CCTV cameras in Inverness are to be upgraded, from the old unreliable analogue cameras installed around 15 years ago.

"I first raised my concerns in September last year after witnessing a violent street brawl on Castle Street, Inverness.

"The CCTV camera that should have captured the incident had been removed from the corner of Inverness Town House because of the scaffolding required for the ongoing building works.

"When I put in my freedom of information request to Police Scotland and Highland Council on the efficiency of the CCTV cameras, I received the information I needed to demonstrate that several CCTV cameras were damaged and not working as required.

"I set up a meeting with the council leader Margaret Davidson and the city manager David Haas to discuss these concerns."

He continued: "I am delighted that a full review has now taken place and recommendations for improvements have been welcomed.

"It is essential that everyone, locals and visitors, coming to the Highland Capital feel safe, as they go about their day, visiting shops, bars, restaurants, clubs and offices, and all comfortable in the knowledge that they are completely safe and the everyday events are being captured and recorded on camera for the prevention of crime and for their protection and wellbeing.

"The CCTV camera footage from the town centres in Wick and Thurso could also now be added to the Highland Council run control room, housed within Burnett Road Police Station in Inverness. This would give round the clock monitoring in addition to what currently exists in the Caithness police stations.

"There are cameras on the Kessock Bridge to capture any attempt to jump from the A9 trunk road. They could also be linked to the Inverness control room to assist police officers and partner agencies when dealing with a vulnerable person.

"The CCTV and control room improvements would require around £100,000 investment to make them fit for modern purpose.

"I will be requesting that Highland Council makes money available to achieve this essential public service to provide the best protection to all our businesses, visitors and citizens, so that it can soon become a reality."

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: The Highland Council CCTV Systems, all recorded material and copyright are owned by the Highland Council. The purpose of each of the Council CCTV System is recorded in the central CCTV Asset Register. The most common objectives are: to protect the Highland Council buildings and their assets, to increase personal safety and reduce fear of crime, to support the police in a bid to deter and detect crime, to assist in identifying, apprehending and prosecuting offenders and to protect members of the public, council staff and pupils.”

Read more about CCTV in Inverness.

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