Police being asked to help foot bill for CCTV in Borders

Selkirk's town centre is one of eight in the Borders monitored by CCTV systems.
Selkirk's town centre is one of eight in the Borders monitored by CCTV systems.

Councillors have hit out at Police Scotland for refusing to help pick up the bill for maintaining the region’s closed-circuit television camera network.

A meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee on Tuesday heard that the region’s CCTV network is no longer fit for purpose, and councillors were asked to note that the authority can no longer afford to install and maintain cameras in public spaces.

Police Scotland currently make no contribution to the cost of running the region’s town centre CCTV systems and have indicated that they will not help pay to replace the outdated systems despite acknowledging that they are a valuable resource for officers in the Borders.

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison told the committee: “We’re contributing funding for two community action police teams here in the Borders, and Police Scotland are telling us they won’t contribute to CCTV in the region to help protect our communities.

“I just find Police Scotland’s position completely unreasonable. I know they have budget constraints, but our budget is being cut too.”

Fellow Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine said: “I think we should go back to the police at some point to ask that they contribute something to this.

“They say that CCTV is useful, and wanted, so I think that they need to help fund it.”

Currently, 19 of the council’s 70 CCTV cameras are out of order, and Martin Joyce, the council’s director of assets and infrastructure, has warned that the number of faulty cameras is likely to increase as some already have intermittent faults.

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

The council is currently spending £40,000 a year maintaining its CCTV systems, and officers say that will continue until its cameras are beyond economic repair.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull suggested that communities could look at funding CCTV systems locally, saying: “Lots of money has been made available from other sources, and it’s important that Police Scotland value CCTV.  

“I think the way forward should be that the five area partnerships pursue this alongside the police.

“Technology has moved on, and nowadays CCTV systems are a lot cheaper and more streamlined, so I think this is an ideal time to take this out to communities and see if they want to support this and fund it through the area partnerships.

“I think the public in certain areas want an upgraded system, so I’d like to see us pursue this through the five area partnerships.”