‘We’re watching over you’ – Stevenage-based CCTV centre monitors hundreds of cameras in North Herts

Staff at the centre in Stevenage monitor more than 800 cameras across two counties. Credit: Dave Ove

Staff at the centre in Stevenage monitor more than 800 cameras across two counties. Credit: Dave Overton - Credit: Archant

The bank of screens doesn’t offer much in the way of gripping TV, just everyday scenes of people going about their business.

But every now and again, there’s suspense, suspicion, high drama – and that’s when the CCTV service that watches over Stevenage and North Herts can be a real lifesaver.

Over the past 20 years the Stevenage-based service has expanded from overseeing just 11 cameras in the new town to becoming a model for other firms across the UK, says its manager.

Hertfordshire CCTV Partnership started as part of Stevenage Borough Council in 1995 and has steadily expanded in the two decades since.

The team now monitors more than 800 cameras across two counties, keeping an eye on what’s going on in Royston, Baldock, Hitchin and Letchworth as well as other towns.

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Managing director Keith Moore said: “We work with the police to keep crime, vandalism and drug taking to a minimum.

“We’ve become the best in the UK at what we do because the group of people working for us are from the areas where the crimes happen, so they know all the usual haunts and are able to predict what is going to happen.

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“This means we know where to position the cameras so we can always see what’s happening.”

Staff regularly work with the police when they see crimes being committed, and are often asked to help find missing people and criminals on the loose.

Despite its growth the partnership’s running costs have fallen by nearly £90,000 over the past five years.

Now the piece of mind provided by the network cost £180,000 last year – something manager Michael Read puts down to outsourcing a lot of the work and creating new business.

He said: “The operators are from a private company we hire in and the police send officers who are on restricted duties to collect CCTV evidence.

“All we provide is the disks so we’re spending nothing on labour which has saved us a fortune.

“Before this was introduced we’d regularly have two or three police cars waiting outside our office for evidence to be collected which was really wasteful.

“No one operated like this before but now other firms are copying some of our methods because they see how much better our system is.”

As well as monitoring town centre networks, the team also provides CCTV support for a number of schools and shopping centres in the area.

Michael said: “Lots of groups choose us because of the excellent service we provide.

“This generates income and helps reduce our costs further.”

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