Plans to be drawn up to improve Borders’ CCTV network

Councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall inspecting Hawick's CCTV system.
Councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall inspecting Hawick's CCTV system.

Ways of stopping the Borders’ closed-circuit TV network falling into further disrepair are to be investigated.

Council officers have been instructed to produce a report on the region’s failing security camera systems and offer suggestions for improving them.

Officers recently admitted that the CCTV network here is no longer fit for purpose, adding that neither the local authority nor the police can afford to install and maintain new cameras.

At present, 19 of the council’s 70 CCTV cameras are not working, and officers have warned councillors that that number will continue to rise.

At a full meeting of the council held in Kelso yesterday, May 16, Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, supported by Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, put forward a motion calling on officers to investigate potential ways to save or replace the ailing CCTV networks.

Introducing his motion Mr Bell said: “Effective public CCTV can make a positive contribution to community safety, which is primarily the responsibility of the police but one in which the council has an obvious part to play.  

“However, the capability of the system now operating in Borders towns has deteriorated.

“Whilst there are limited budgeted council funds to invest in the current CCTV system, and whilst there will be advantages in opening up opportunities for communities to participate in the definition of what is needed, any decisions need to be based on a quantified assessment of costs.

“I ask officers to prepare a report showing the costs and options for renewing or replacing existing public CCTV for each community with a CCTV system, to make that information part of a consultation with area partnerships, community planning partners and the police, fire and rescue and safer communities board before bringing forward a final report for consideration by this council.”

Officers are also being asked to assess whether outside resources will need to be brought in and how much a consultation would cost.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull spoke in favour of commissioning the report, saying: “CCTV plays a big part in modern living.

“It gives the public reassurance of safety and it protects businesses.

“The council has made it very clear that in the long term that it cannot afford to fund the maintenance and repair of CCTV networks, although, in conjunction with the police, we would be very supportive of any community that is willing to fund such systems themselves.

“Technology has come on leaps and bounds since these systems were first installed, and the price has become much keener.

“We’ve seen huge changes since the amalgamation of Police Scotland, and we’re aware of the huge pressures placed on them.

“We’re living in an ever-changing world, and technology needs to be used in a positive way.”

Mr McAteer implored his colleagues to back Mr Bell’s plea, saying: “This motion will provide all elected members with an opportunity to contribute to a decision that will set the course of CCTV provision in the Borders for the future. “That is a very good and democratic approach.

“We have heard that safety is a key determination in the health and wellbeing of our residents.”

There are eight CCTV systems in the region, all operated by the police, covering Duns, Eyemouth, Galashiels, Hawick, Kelso, Melrose, Peebles and Selkirk.

The council is currently spending £40,000 a year repairing and maintaining them, and officers have advised councillors that this will continue until the CCTV cameras are beyond economic repair.

Police Scotland have also confirmed that, although they view the CCTV systems as a valuable resource, they will not be providing funding for their maintenance.

No councillor spoke out against the motion, and it was carried unanimously.