Souters lead the way in future of Borders CCTV networks

While the rest of the Borders watch their CCTV systems go to rack and ruin, Selkirk is staying ahead of the game and keeping an eye out for crime.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 9:08 am
Councillor Caroline Penman alongside a CCTV camera in Selkirk town centre.

Selkirkshire councillor Caroline Penman told the town’s community council on Monday night that the Selkirk business improvement district scheme (BIDS) is taking over responsibility for the town’s CCTV system.

She said the £25,000 system is going to be bigger and better than ever before, and it could be in place before the summer.

After the meeting, she told us: “Selkirk BIDS is going to be taking on the responsibility for the CCTV in Selkirk and upgrading it in a joint project with Selkirk’s common good fund.

Caroline Penman in Selkirk.

“The system there at the moment, the cameras aren’t the best. It’s quite an outdated system.

“The system we are going to be getting is more like the hand-held devices used by the police.

“We’re upgrading it from five to eight cameras, all of which will have 180-degree fish-eye lenses, and with far more definition as well.

“It means there will be more cameras on the High Street.

“It’s being financed through Selkirk BIDS from the levies contributed by the town’s businesses each month, matchfunded by the common good.

The existing cameras in the town are linked to the police station in Scott’s Place but the proposed new system will not be.

It will not be routinely monitored either, instead being used as a retrospective tool.

The feed from the cameras will be recorded on a four-week rolling loop on a hard drive in another location, likely to be a locked cupboard in the town’s Victoria Halls, to be accessed by police as and when they need it.

A test of the system has already come up trumps.

Mrs Penman explained: “There was an accident last week in the Tower Street area and a lady had come in and asked if there was anything on the camera that could be used to identify the person who bashed her car, and it’s pure quality.

“It’s what the system can be used for. If there is an accident in the High Street or a theft or antisocial behaviour like we are experiencing in the town at the moment, we can go back to that spot in time and look to see what’s happened.

“It’s all good to go. It’s just a case of getting all the final details of it put together and ensuring the funding is put in place, and the company will just get it done.

“It shows you what can happen when a community gets together.

“There was an online poll carried out, through Selkirk BIDS, and 398 people came forward and said they wanted the CCTV. That’s 95%.

“Compare that to when Scottish Borders Council did a poll over a six-week period, and they only received 438 replies from the whole of the Borders.

“Selkirk obviously wants the CCTV system in place.”

Last week, Mrs Penman told the council it was letting down Borderers after it voted to spend £44,000 a year on minimal maintenance of the region’s CCTV network and removing it when it finally breaks down beyond repair.

She said she had a vested interest in Selkirk’s own network as her shop and post office was raided last year.

Council leader Shona Haslam said the authority could not afford the thousands of pounds it would cost to bring the systems up to date, adding that she believed that it was not the job of the council to maintain or replace the security systems.

Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell suggested an alternative of spending £600,000 to £650,000 to get eight decent systems in place, which won the backing of 13 councillors, but fell short of defeating the 15-strong side in favour of the orignal plan.

However, if Selkirk can go it alone and put in an all-singing, all-dancing system for minimal outlay, other Borders towns will be watching closely.