Petworth to stop funding its CCTV because it ‘hasn’t caught criminals’

Councillors in Petworth have agreed to stop funding the town’s CCTV masts, on the basis the £5,000 a year could be better spent elsewhere.

A meeting of Petworth Town Council on Thursday heard the masts, managed by the district council, would still serve as a deterrent, but had not been known to catch any criminals in the ten years the council had paid for them.

Michael Peet said he was sure the masts ‘wouldn’t go away’ if they weren’t funded as they would cost more to remove and the payment for the district council scheme was a voluntary one.

He said: “We’ve paid £50,000 for it over the last ten years as a contribution and it’s not contributed to a single apprehension on our streets.

“It seems to me, when we have so many other things to spend mony on that are demonstratably for the community, to pay £5,000, due diligence is off.”

He said the district council had cut grants in various places for the town and the project was about the only contribution the town council had a say on the other way.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr Peet had asked PCSO Andrea Oakley of Sussex Police if CCTV was helpful for catching offenders and heard that it was.

But Roger Hanauer raised the issue of police time going through hours of CCTV and incidents reported by the Observer of a Chichester man told to investigate his own bike theft.

Rob Evans told the council that the one time he had witnessed a crime in the street from his window, the CCTV from the masts hadn’t been of help to police.

“The one thing they were after was a registration number in the square and the thing was at the wrong angle,” he said.

Mr Peet suggested other more covertly placed CCTV from dashcams, private properties and neighbouring businesses might be more effective than the obviously visible CCTV masts.

Cllr Neville Fox was nonetheless concerned that the masts would definitely be kept working if the town council’s funds were removed as the value of functioning CCTV as a deterrent was ‘incalulable’.

He proposed the council wait on a decision until it had discussed the situation with the district council face to face.

But a vote was outnumbered seven to two, with the majority of the council in favour of cutting the contribution immediately.