Business > Efficiency

District council's CCTV costs outstrip London borough's

SA Mathieson Published 23 September 2010

District council's CCTV costs outstrip London borough's

An Oxfordshire district council is spending more than three times per CCTV camera than a London borough

Each of West Oxfordshire DC's 76 CCTV cameras costs £1,700 to run a year, compared with £494 at LB Wandsworth. The district council's scheme also costs nearly twice as much as the London borough's on the basis of incidents logged: £131.97 in West Oxfordshire, compared with £69 in Wandsworth.

The figures, based on data from the two councils released under Freedom of Information, suggest that UK council's 60,000 CCTV cameras cost tens of millions of pounds to run each year, and indicates that smaller schemes in rural areas may be much less efficient.

The Wandsworth scheme, which runs 1,140 cameras, costs more overall £563,000), while West Oxfordshire's CCTV costs £129,000. But the district council has a small fraction of the crime suffered by the London borough, and around a third of its population. On a per capita basis, the schemes cost £2 per Wandsworth resident and £1.27 for each West Oxonian.

The district council said that its cameras cost £378,000 to install, about £5,000 per camera, with all but £18,000 of the funding came from the Home Office. Most of the cameras are sited in the district's main town, Witney, with four more recently installed in Carterton, a town next to RAF Brize Norton. Wandsworth was not able to provide an equivalent figure for capital expenditure, with its cameras having been installed over two decades.

West Oxfordshire argued that the council itself paid only £66,100 last year, around half the cost of the scheme, and that on this basis the cost per incident is £67.51 and the charge per resident is 69p. However, some of the balance comes from other taxpayer funded bodies, including Thames Valley Police and town councils, with other funding from local retailers through chambers of commerce.

The district council also said that the Home Office normally compares its scheme with areas with similar levels of crime, such as Sevenoaks in Kent or Purbeck in Dorset, rather than a London borough. It added that a 2008 review of the scheme by Optimum Security Services concluded that West Oxfordshire's scheme cost less than other district councils in Oxfordshire and provided good value for money.

"The CCTV service in West Oxfordshire has ensured that crime and disorder has remained relatively low compared to other areas," said Bill Oddy, the council's head of community services. "In 2009-10 there was a 6.8% reduction in all crime and a 5.3% reduction in violent crime in West Oxfordshire. The system also brings in added benefits, for example operators have summoned ambulances quickly when they have seen accidents and medical emergencies including people collapsing on the street."

Feature from GC magazine: A tale of two cameras

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