A local police inspector has severely criticised Scottish Borders Council over its handling of Hawick’s new £15,000 CCTV system.
In an email sent to elected members, community councillors and council officials last Friday, Inspector Carol Wood revealed that police were never consulted over the installation and positioning of the cameras, requests for updates were ignored, the positioning of some of the recording equipment renders it illegal, that a ‘To Let’ sign is obscuring the view of a High Street camera, and despite being told by SBC on August 3 that the cameras “were up and running” they were not fully operational until August 17.
Responding to criticism from Inspector Wood that police were not kept up to date and were not “made aware of the installations” when they were taking place, Scottish Borders Council said: “The council does believe Police Scotland were aware of the installations. It is unfortunate if anyone believes that was not the case – we work particularly closely with Police Scotland and are confident any miscommunication will be addressed.”
The council spokesperson said the system was now fully operational and had been since June apart from a short period of time, and responding to Inspector Wood’s claim that the “sighting” of some of the recording equipment (in a room freely open to staff members) makes it illegal, the council said: “The council and police have worked together to ensure we are complying with Data Protection legislation in terms of the storage of the equipment.”
And despite the inspector claiming that some of the cameras had not been checked for 10 months, with a contractor obligated to do so every three months, SBC refuted this, saying: “Maintenance is carried out by the contractor on a quarterly basis and we are satisfied that is being carried out.”
Inspector Wood also questioned how police would gain hours access to the cameras and the council added: “CCTV access is usually required during working hours which the council provides to Police Scotland. In the event Police Scotland require out of hours access, the council would happily facilitate.”
Commenting on the situation, Councillor Ron Smith said: “I would reiterate what I said some weeks ago that the three of us [Councillors Smith, Paterson and Turnbull] would “strongly ask” that the police to take this CCTV system seriously and we would feel let down if they did not do so.”