CCTV cameras are all around us and we are probably captured on hundreds each day – but what’s the situation like in Redditch?
The Standard’s Tristan Harris went to the check out the control room that monitors all of the borough’s cameras.
The room features three big screens, each containing 24 mini screens, showing what is being filmed on 72 of the service’s cameras.
The control room, based at Redditch town hall, covers the 48 cameras in Redditch, 91 in Bromsgrove and 17 in the Wyre Forest (Bewdley, Stourport and Kidderminster) as part of a shared service between the three authorities.
Of the 48 Redditch cameras, 20 are in the town centre (the Kingfisher Centre has its own), Batchley and Winyates have five each, Headless Cross four, Matchborough and Woodrow six each and Church Hill two.
Almost all of the cameras have the ability to span 360° and can focus clearly up to about 100m.
Every camera is checked daily and their positions reviewed every two weeks.
Rachel McAndrews, the CCTV and Lifeline manager, said: “For example, if a nightclub has a camera and then it closes, we move it to somewhere else.”
As you would expect, different areas are monitored depending on the time of day. During rush hours junctions will be examined and cameras trained on schools and nurseries.
Then, later in the evenings and through the night, town centres and nightspots are the primary focus.
Footage, recorded and stored at hubs in Bromsgrove and Redditch, is kept for 31 days until it is deemed no longer needed.
And, as well as recording what is happening, the control room is linked to the police so officers can view plus there are also links to the Shopwatch and Pubwatch organisations.
One operator told us: “When you have worked here for a while you just notice things out of the corner of your eye that you know need to be investigated.”
But Mrs McAndrews said: “CCTV is not just about catching criminals and preventing crime, it also acts as a deterrent and helps with community safety in general.”
She said in the past camera footage has been used to help people prove their innocence when they had wrongly been accused of a crime – dated and timed shots of them in one particular place have backed up people’s alibis.
And while we were there, operators zoomed in to look at youths climbing on goalposts, alerting officers to go and have a word with them.
There was also a missing person reported which, Mrs McAndrews said, was probably the most common use for CCTV.
Operators were able to hone in on areas where it was thought the ‘misper’ could be and the clarity of the shots gave those viewing the screens all the tools they needed to find someone matching the description circulated.