Thurrock Council is a unitary authority in Essex with a diverse area under its control – from the Lakeside Shopping Centre to over 18 miles of Thames riverfront and a large area of green belt land.
Although not an area of high-crime, the Council is determined to reduce anti-social behaviour for the benefit of the community.
The Challenge – Installing a New CCTV Recording System
Thurrock Council was one of the first councils in the United Kingdom to use IP technology for their CCTV network. The CCTV system had 220 cameras over 28 locations across the borough transmitting CCTV data using the Council’s IP network. Cameras were recorded for 30 days using locally based “edge” devices.
Since the cameras are motion activated, sometimes, in heavy traffic locations, the recording memory was full long before the 30 day period was over, with important footage being overwritten before review. With an ever-increasing demand for CCTV footage from the Police and other local authorities, CCTV Manager Gary Weatherly knew that a new CCTV recording system was urgently required.
In addition, the manufacturers of the system had ceased to support it. Whilst it could be kept going for a few years, it was obsolete and therefore expensive to repair. It had to be replaced in the near future since there was a risk that failure of critical components could lead to failure of large elements of the system.
With a limited budget and no capital expenditure allocation available from the Council, Gary called in ClearView Communications as security technology experts for advice.
The solution – New IP CCTV Network Technology
ClearView were contracted to support the original system, so were well aware of the challenges and limited resources available.
Their solution was to bring in partners Indigo Vision. Together they developed a three-year programme to meet the Council’s needs, using the latest IP CCTV technology with images sent back to the control room using a variety of methods including copper cable, fibre, wireless IP, broadband and mobile phone technologies.
The 220 cameras were retained but linked to a new central storage system. Live and recorded images are transmitted and viewed over the IP network. ClearView also modernised the Control Room, installing new 42” plasma screens as part of the upgrade.
It is very easy to operate by Council staff and other non-technical users (such as police officers). Images are easier to view (especially with the new plasma screens), with the system delivering high quality images with improved resolution and frame rate.
It also allows for the pin-pointing of time and movement with greater speed and accuracy and is highly flexible, coping with varying quantities of recording from different locations. In addition, the system is scalable – there is no limit to the number of cameras that can be added in the future.
New CCTV System – The Benefits
Thurrock Council is delighted with the outcome of the project. CCTV Manager Gary Weatherley is clear that the system has provided many benefits, not least the time saved by his team.
The new CCTV system has proved to be very cost-effective, with an upgrade process that was able to utilise the existing cameras. In addition, it was purchased out of operating budget so did not demand capital expenditure at a time of stringent cost-cutting.
The project was completed ahead of time – within two years not three as originally planned – and retaining the existing cameras saved money.
The system’s ability to quickly pinpoint time and images has reduced the time taken by police to retrieve critical CCTV video evidence, who can now view images within minutes and not days – as before. Since they require 500 – 1000 pieces of CCTV footage per week. This has resulted in a huge time saving.
Each computer can print images directly onto a DVD for use as evidence and, as the CCTV Control Room is open 24/7; the Police can come in at any time to view or collect footage. The system is so efficient and easy to use that, if the Police wish to target an area on a certain night, they can control the process from the CCTV Control Room.
The new system also provides an audit trail of all operator actions. Recordings can be copied onto three duplicate DVDs using an evidentially sound process acceptable for use within the Criminal Justice System. Each DVD is printed with a title including a unique reference number.
The efficiency of the Council’s service to other authorities (such as Trading Standards) has also been greatly improved. As a result of the project, a number of crimes (from theft to anti-social behaviour) have been detected and arrests made.
“ClearView was very supportive throughout the design and installation process. The upgrade of the Council’s CCTV network has seen a significant improvement in ease of operation and the quality of CCTV evidence produced.”
Gary Weatherley, CCTV Manager, Thurrock Council