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 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 the failure of significant system elements.
Gary called in ClearView Communications as security technology experts for advice with a limited budget and no capital expenditure allocation available from the Council.
The solution – New IP CCTV Network Technology
ClearView was contracted to support the original system, so we 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 various 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 straightforward 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 pinpointing time and movement with more incredible 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 could utilise the existing cameras. In addition, it was purchased out of operating budget, so it did not demand capital expenditure at a time of stringent cost-cutting.
The project was completed within two years, not three as initially 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 CCTV footage per week, this has resulted in substantial 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. In addition, the system is so efficient and easy to use that if the Police wish to target an area on a particular 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 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, several crimes (from theft to anti-social behaviour) have been detected, and arrests made.
“ClearView was very supportive throughout the design and installation process. As a result, 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