CRIME fears have been voiced after councillors took the ‘difficult decision’ to withdraw funding for CCTV in Dorchester.
The town council has been paying around £18,000 a year as part of the Western Dorset CCTV Scheme.
But it has decided to cease funding, despite fears that this will lead to blame when crimes happen.
Councillors had the option to discuss reducing funding to £12,000 but voted by majority to cut it all together.
Cllr Richard Biggs abstained from voting, warning councillors that ‘every time there’s a crime people will be saying ‘thanks to the town council.’ He added: “We have got this offer of looking at it again and I think it would be foolish to go all out.
“Don’t just shut the door and be blamed forever more every time there’s a crime.”
The CCTV scheme in Dorchester is a partnership between Dorchester Town Council, Dorset County Council, Dorset Police, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and was launched in 2006.
The cameras are monitored by a control room in Weymouth which has a direct link to the police control room. Cllr Molly Rennie put forward a counter-motion to the recommendation and asked to set up a meeting to discuss a lower payment- but this was vetoed by a majority.
They were told by inspector Steve Marsh that although rate of conviction using CCTV as a primary form of evidence is low, CCTV used as a secondary form is higher.
For example, the supposed offender’s movements can be traced after the crime.
Cllr Trevor Jones said the police described CCTV as a ‘useful tool’ but ‘had no money to buy the useful tool and so the council was persuaded.’ He said it was a difficult decision but added: “There is no real evidence that we are getting value for money.
“We’re not skint but we have got to save some expenditure.”
Cllr Tim Harries added that if ‘irrefutable evidence’ could be delivered to show CCTV was worth the town council’s contribution, the money would be taken from reserves.
But, he added: “There is no discernible evidence that CCTV has actually brought crime down in this town at all.”