Herefordshire is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its system of CCTV cameras and control room.

Prior to the launch of the new system, which is a collaboration between the Council and West Mercia Police, the county had fewer than 50 CCTV cameras in public spaces. Following various new installations, and thanks to the Safer Streets 3 and 4 bids there are now 179 cameras in operation. This figure will increase further by the end of the year when new IP cameras in the Cathedral Close are installed, replacing the old analogue cameras.

Herefordshire’s CCTV control room was officially launched in September 2003 by television’s Fiona Bruce, along with then-Leader of Herefordshire Council, Cllr Roger Phillips. It was the first time a control facility in the county was fitted with fully digital equipment to record the images from the network of CCTV cameras across the county 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Since becoming operational, the system has dealt with 64,571 incidents.

A typical day for the CCTV operators includes monitoring and providing evidence for allegations of theft or public disorder, assisting and ensuring the safety of Civil Enforcement Officers and Blue Light Emergency services, and supporting licensees and door staff with the night time economy. The system is also used to identify and locate vulnerable individuals, support the policing of football matches, and has even been used to assist a number of high profile murder cases.

Inspector Julie Watson, West Mercia Police, added: “The Hereford Safer Streets programme has doubled the CCTV capacity within Hereford City, expanding the area of coverage and providing high quality digital images to help prevent crime and make our communities feel safer utilising public spaces.  One of the new cameras helped an investigation into an unexplained death initially treated as homicide, quickly allowing investigators to establish that the male died of natural causes.

“The increased CCTV capacity has been enhanced by improved Street lighting; as well as landscaping of our overgrown green spaces, to provide more natural surveillance and light penetration making these spaces feel less hostile, particularly during hours of darkness.

‚ÄúThe fantastic team at Hereford CCTV control assist Police every day with an array of investigations, are a great asset who play a huge part in keeping our communities safe.‚ÄĚ