£13,000 camera is back in action

Local councillors Stephen Akers-Belcher, Marjorie James and Angie Wilcox with the camera in the background

Local councillors Stephen Akers-Belcher, Marjorie James and Angie Wilcox with the camera in the background

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A CONTROVERSIAL CCTV camera that has been plagued with problems is back up and running.

The camera, in Catcote Road, Hartlepool, was first installed in 2009 at a cost of almost £13,000 and was wirelessly connected to the town’s CCTV monitoring centre.

But last summer, problems were first reported with the quality of the images from the camera and a temporary camera had to be installed.

An investigation was launched and the problems were put down to the presence of a new telephone mast in the area as the signals were affecting the camera’s wireless transmission.

Local Labour councillors Stephen Akers-Belcher, Marjorie James and Angie Wilcox had been critical of the camera, describing it as a “white elephant”.

It was first erected to help tackle problems with anti-social behaviour near the shopping parade at the junction with Oxford Road, in Hartlepool.

It did have an initial impact and councillors say problems with youths at the shops have been stamped out.

It cost a total of £12,690 to install, of which £5,000 came from the Rift House Neighbourhood Action Plan (NAP) and the remainder from the council.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “A large part of the camera was funded from the Rift House NAP.

“It was installed because at the time people did not feel safe at the shops due to the levels of anti-social behaviour.

“The initiative also included a greater police presence and the support of a youth worker.

“But there have been problems with the camera ever since.”

Coun Akers-Belcher added: “We know that cameras are not the only answer, but they are a useful tool in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We are pleased the camera is up and running again, but we will be keeping a close eye on it to make sure it is doing what it is supposed to.”

In order to rectify the problem, technicians had to re-route the camera’s wireless signal so it is not distorted and that work was finally completed in February.

Meanwhile, a temporary wired camera was erected on the same column.

A council spokesman said: “Last year, problems were reported with the quality of the images from the camera and, following investigation, this was found to be due to the presence of a new telephone mast in the area, the signal from which was affecting the camera’s wireless transmission.

“We subsequently had to carry out technical work to re-route the camera’s wireless signal so that it is free from distortion.

“In the meantime, knowing that the work would take some time to complete, we installed a temporary non-wireless CCTV camera on the same column last year, covering the same area.

“This camera stores its own images, but is not directly connected to the CCTV monitoring centre.

“The work to re-route the wireless signal of the permanent camera was completed in February of this year and the camera is back in operation again.”

The spokesman added that it did not cost the council any money to install the temporary camera as they used a mobile camera already in stock.