Northampton's CCTV System
Northampton Borough Council, with the full support of Northamptonshire Police and the local business community, has installed a network of closed circuit television cameras ( CCTV ) to focus on many areas of the town centre and retail / leisure locations in order to provide safe areas for the benefit of those who live, work, trade, visit, serve and enjoy the facilities and environment of the town.
The key objectives for the CCTV Scheme are: -
To assist in the detection of crime.
To facilitate the apprehension and prosecution of offenders in relation to crime and public order.
To prevent or mitigate interruptions to traffic flow (not to enforce breaches of traffic law).
To assist in the reduction of fear of crime and reassurance to the public.
To assist in the effective management of the areas covered and their surroundings.
The system will safeguard the privacy of individuals and not invade the privacy of any individual in residential, business or other private premises, building or land unless in direct pursuance of the first two objectives.
The CCTV system is managed and operated within the following laws: -
Data Protection Act 1998
Human Rights Act 1998
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
Freedom of Information Act 2000
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
as well as operating under it's own CCTV Code of Practice
CCTV was first introduced to Northampton in 1989 with the first cameras being installed to monitor car parks. In 1991 camera coverage was extended to include public areas within the town centre and Greyfriars Bus Station. Over the last 17 years the operation has expanded dramatically and as at November 2009 there are currently 554 cameras in total located throughout Northampton.
The CCTV system is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by operators who are trained and licensed by the Security Industry Authority for public space surveillance. All images are transmitted back to the Northampton control room by fibre-optic cables, recorded and held for a maximum of 31 days.
The CCTV cameras are controlled by a touch view system which enables a dedicated team of CCTV operators to control the entire network of cameras by switching from one location to another or to zoom in on any area of interest simply by touching the computer screen allowing them to monitor any problems that occur on the street in detail. When an immediate response and intervention is required, operators are able to display any images onto a dedicated Police Monitor, which is monitored at Northamptonshire Police Area Control Room.
The CCTV Control Room is registered with the National Security Inspectorate, which entails a quality check every 6 month period to make sure the system is operated to the required standards. The cutting edge technology used is recognised nationally by the Home Office.
The areas covered by CCTV within Northampton are: -
Town Centre Car Parks
Town Centre Public Areas
Northampton Bus Station
Sixfields Community Stadium and Leisure Complex
Urban Traffic Control Cameras
Park Square shopping area / community office at Kings Heath
Kingsthorpe Shopping Area
St Peters Way Retail Park
St James Retail Park
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)
Northampton CCTV was selected in 2001 as one of eight centres in the UK to trial Automatic Number Plate Recognition on behalf of the Home Office and this has developed over the last 5 years.
The ANPR system recognises and records car number plates. Using a high speed modem link car number plates are sent through to the Police National Computer. Within 5-6 seconds the CCTV Operators and the Police dispatch controller from the ANPR team are alerted by an alarm sounding and an image appears on the touchview screen confirming that the vehicle is of interest to the Police. A response is then carried out using a variety of mechanisms and vehicles. Due to the success, ANPR is now a permanent fixture within the CCTV Control Room and has been rolled out nationally to other control rooms throughout the country.