A half-million pound upgrade of Peterborough’s CCTV system will take place to help bring more offenders to justice and keep residents safe.
The CCTV system has come under fire in recent weeks after it was revealed cameras on Rhubarb Bridge were not working when two sex attacks took place near the bridge - and had not been repaired since.
Cameras and hardware in the system will now be replaced, costing £338,000 - and there will also be a five year maintenance budget of £220,000, after council bosses said the current system was ‘dated.’
Work to upgrade the cameras will begin shortly.
There are currently five cameras across the city which are not working at all, and four other cameras which have faults.
Adrian Chapman, service director for communities and safety services at Peterborough City Council, said: “The council is aware that the current system is dated and has recently approved a city-wide upgrade which will replace all cameras and control room facilities. This will begin in the new year initially upgrading the control room and then CCTV cameras.
“The new system will bring significant improvements to the quality of CCTV images by utilising the CityFibre’s fibre network and installing modern equipment, such as wireless cameras where required.
“The number of cameras will not initially change, however reviews will take place where necessary to ensure cameras are utilised and in the best locations. Other benefits include reductions in maintenance charges and energy consumption as well as creating a more effective monitoring service.”
A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said the evidence provided by the CCTV cameras was vital in bringing offenders to justice.
He said: “CCTV footage can be a very important part of an investigation as it often allows us to go back in time to an incident and piece together what actually happened.
“We have had many successes with public CCTV appeals where we have needed to identify people, so we would like to thank the public for their continued support in this area.
“We work closely with our partners in the councils to review footage on a regular basis where required.”
The council currently operates 165 CCTV cameras across Peterborough. The feeds are monitored 24/7 in the city centre control room, and over the past 12 months 602 pieces of evidence gathered from the CCTV have been handed to police to help with investigations. Operators are in constant contact with police and proactively refer ongoing incidents as they happen.
Adrian Chapman said: “Currently we have five cameras, 3 per cent of the network, that aren’t operational and awaiting repair. A further four cameras are working but have control issues, for instance limited movement, that also have been reported for repair.”
The new CCTV technology will use the CityFibre network being installed across Peterborough.
It is hoped the fibre optic system will help reduce costs, and also improve reliability. Cameras at Rhubarb Bridge were out of action earlier this year when rats chewed through cables. The contract, granted to Quadrant Security Group, runs until 2022.
Vandals cut off key cameras in sex assault probe
Detectives investigating two serious sex assaults in Peterborough were unable to see footage from five cameras near the scene of the crime after vandals damaged the junction box.
Two women were attacked a week apart at the end of September and beginning of October on a footpath near Rhubarb Bridge. The two attacks have been linked by police.
However, five cameras near the site were not working.
Peterborough City Council initially said rats had chewed through the cables - but now it has been reveals vandals caused the problem.
Adrian Chapman said: “For two weeks in April the CCTV cameras close to Rhubarb Bridge stopped working after rats chewed through cabling which resulted in a loss of signal.
“The cameras stopped working again at the end of August after the cable junction box was vandalised. These cameras were not in operation between then and earlier this week when engineers restored pictures to three cameras before permanent repairs take place to all cameras.
“With regard to the recent incidents, footage was provided at the request of the police from other cameras in the vicinity. “However, the cameras in this specific location should have been repaired sooner and that is what we are now working on.”
Detectives have now released e-fits of the suspects in the sex attack case. Anyone with information should call police on 101.