Islington’s new £2m CCTV centre opens

CCTV room at Islington council offices.

CCTV room at Islington council offices. - Credit: Archant

A £2million CCTV control centre has opened in Islington, providing 24-hour coverage of 1,000 cameras across the borough.

The suite at the council’s offices in Upper Street can link directly to police so that officers can respond to crimes more quickly.

Footage of streets, parks and council-run estates will be monitored in the centre by staff who will be able to track antisocial behaviour hotspots and alert police to anyone who may be at risk of committing suicide.

It is hoped the new technology will help to directly tackle mobile phone theft which has been particularly prevalent in Islington.

Cllr Paul Convery, executive member for community safety, said: “This is not a substitute for having feet on the ground.

“This aids police and council security patrolling the streets and responding to incidents as and when they happen. We have more police and council security than we have had for 20 to 30 years.

“We’re not retreating into a CCTV room. We’re helping those on the ground get to crime and solve it faster.”

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The screens can be linked into the CCTV networks of neighbouring boroughs, Hackney and Camden, Transport for London and the Met Police who can view the images from their own offices.

Cllr Convery said the cameras located on Islington’s council estates were not always being monitored and images took a long time to reach police.

Camera views are displayed on a video wall in the centre which will be made available on smartphones, tablets and laptops to authorised staff such as police officers and council wardens.

Housing associations will also be able to link in to the service with their own cameras if they wish.

The control centre has been funded from the council’s capital budget.

“This is a long-term investment and one of the very few additional spends we have made over four years” Cllr Convery said.

Asked whether the new technology could be seen as an invasion of privacy, Cllr Convery said: “The vast majority of residents want CCTV and want it to be used well.

“I think if there is a tiny majority of people with a hang-up that their privacy is intruded then what we have demonstrated is that CCTV works, it deters crime, it solves crime by providing good evidence and now it will provide real-time imagery to help police and other emergency services to deal with incidents as they happen.”

Black-out markings are used on the screens to cover private residential dwellings.

“This will be ethically managed,” Cllr Convery added. “There are safeguards in place and we respect privacy.

“This will be used exclusively to bring down crime and everybody will benefit.”