Inverness CCTV: Councillor asks 'Is big brother watching?'
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A councillor has demanded clarity from Highland Council about CCTV coverage in Inverness.
Councillor Duncan Macpherson launched an investigation after he was told by police officers and victims of crime that the number of cameras not working in the city ran into double figures.
The situation came to light after he witnessed and filmed a mass brawl in Castle Street.
Officers told him there was no CCTV footage of the fight – and 13 other cameras were not working in the city centre.
Highland Council, which owns and pays for a contractor to operate the cameras on its behalf, said that while there was a fault with 11 cameras after an electrical storm, they were all still working.
Cllr Macpherson has now written toPolice Scotland and the council demanding information on how many units are out of service.
Since airing his concerns on social media, the Independent councillor said he has been “inundated” with responses.
He said dozens of city residents, businesses and visitors told him CCTV had not been working when police were gathering evidence for incidents they were involved in.
Cllr Macpherson said he has now made two requests under Freedom of Information legislation to find out the true picture.
“Dozens of people have contacted me about incidents of assault and theft in and around the city, who were told by police officers, ‘we don’t have it captured on CCTV cameras’,” he said.
“I was shocked to discover that so many CCTV cameras are not working. They are an important tool in protecting people and fighting crime. I will put this right by whatever means necessary.
“I was told by two different police officers that the lack of cameras has been hampering their work. Since then I have discovered one in Young Street has not been working for three or four years, the units at the underpass don’t work, units at Inshes Park are out and four or five are not working in the Crown area.
“Businesses tell me that police contact them for CCTV footage, as the ‘official’ units are not working.”
He continued: “The evening economy is a vital component of our thriving city and those people visiting the area all need to feel safe and secure.”
A council spokesman insisted that cameras were still working.
“A recent electrical storm caused damage to 11 of the city’s CCTV cameras and two fibre optic links which take the signal from the cameras to the control centre,” he said. “The cameras’ ability to operate in colour was affected by the storm, but all 11 cameras still operated in monochrome, therefore were not and have not been completely broken since the storm. Replacement digital cameras have been ordered and they will be installed as soon as possible to restore full colour coverage to the sites affected.”
A police spokeswoman declined to comment, saying CCTV cameras in Inverness are the council’s responsibility.
Jim Ferguson, Crimestoppers’ chairman in Scotland, said: “Let’s hope that Highland Council update these CCTV units to digital as they will give much more detail to officers.
“The police on the whole are doing a good job, but there is no doubt that CCTV can provide a much-needed assurance for those caught up in the lawlessness and violence as witnessed in Inverness [the brawl]. CCTV plays its part in reducing and detecting crime.”
Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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