Police raise the stakes in bid to introduce CCTV in Marlborough
A police bid to encourage Marlborough to introduce a CCTV system in its much admired High Street was made last night (Wednesday) at a special meeting of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce’s executive.
And it was welcomed by the Chamber’s new president Paul Shimell (pictured), who wants to raise the profile of Marlborough and make it a "must attraction" for tourists in the coming year.
“Attempts to introduce CCTV have floundered in the past mainly due to cost,” he told Marlborough News Online. “It would obviously be of considerable benefit to Marlborough and a deterrent to those who think we are a soft touch.”
“Our aim is to co-operate with the town council in finding a viable way of introducing CCTV and we are most grateful to the police for providing us with the latest information as to the kind of system that ought to be introduced.”
Marlborough, the only significant town in Wiltshire without a CCTV system to prevent crime and outbreaks of social disorder, has been targeted by gangs coming from London, Manchester, Bristol and Swindon in the run-up to Christmas.
This is a phenomena that has been happening on a national basis, along with the theft of valuable metals from church roofs and war memorials.
There have been 50 incidents of shoplifting and theft in Marlborough since September, but the police believe this is not a total figure as too many cases go unreported by retailers.
So the Chamber invited two officers, Town community beat manager Stan Boardman and Special Constable Mike Tuckman, to outline their concerns and give details of the CCTV operations in other towns, in particular Wootton Bassett, where PC Tuckman introduced CCTV.
And to cut costs this operation is monitored by small army of volunteers, a system the police believe could also be introduced in Marlborough.
Marlborough town council has a sub-committee investigating the CCTV initiative but it has yet to report to the council. An attempt to add £10,000 to next year’s council budget to pay for an initial system was defeated at last week’s council meeting because there was no detailed information available to support it.
Meanwhile, Councillor Richard Pitts, who represents the town council at Chamber of Commerce meetings, is preparing his own report on likely costs and how a CCTV system would operate.
He believes the capital cost could be covered if CCTV became part of the Marlborough town hall improvement project and that the system could be operated from the town hall itself.
“I favour the introduction of a simple system of six cameras that could cover the town and the four main roads in and out of Marlborough,” he told Marlborough News Online.
But he is concerned whether or not the system includes instant number plate recognition, which would inflate its costs, and whether volunteers would be forthcoming to monitor the system.
“I fear that introducing CCTV could create an iceberg hole in the council’s finances if we are not careful,” he added. “It is going to take a little time for us to work out the best way ahead.”