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Wick cameras zoom in on crime

By David G Scott

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AN initiative in Wick will see increased monitoring of crime and anti-social behaviour with an upgrading of the present CCTV system throughout the town.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council on Monday night when a local Highland councillor outlined aspects of the upgraded system and how it could help tackle the recent spate of vandalism in the town.

Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said: "The days of our thugs are coming to an end – unless they want to have their portrait on a gallery wall in the police station."

A map of Wick showing CCTV camera locations.
A map of Wick showing CCTV camera locations.

He went on to discuss aspects of the revamped surveillance scheme that will have 20 operational cameras deployed, with some having state-of-the-art pan, tilt and zoom abilities.

"They will allow coverage of both the toilets and play-park area which have been suffering from vandalism recently," Councillor Bremner said.

"A further two fixed cameras are also being installed to monitor the EV [electric vehicle] charging and car club bays and also the motorhome parking."

He explained how six units will be added to the existing 14 cameras which have been serviced by a new contractor and are now "in good working order".

A CCTV camera outside Caithness General Hospital in Wick.Picture: DGS
A CCTV camera outside Caithness General Hospital in Wick.Picture: DGS

"There had in the past been challenges with a previous maintenance contractor not performing within targets," Councillor Bremner said.

"This has now been resolved with a new contractor in place. There were also issues with fault reporting which have now also been resolved with the control room in Inverness now the central fault reporting contact."

It was explained at the meeting in the Assembly Rooms how the new pan, tilt and zoom facilities will allow the cameras at Wick riverside, for example, to monitor activity in a much wider area and focus in on vandalism and other anti-social behaviour.

Questions were asked as to how far away images could be captured. It was confirmed that it is now possible to collect footage from one side of the river to the other to focus on issues at the playground area, for example.

"There are local DVRs [digital video recorders] in Wick police station which record and archive all the footage and are also able to view the footage live," Councillor Bremner said.

He said there was also a possibility of obtaining funding to allow all "public space CCTV" footage to be relayed to a central control room located at Burnett Road police station in Inverness.

"This would speed up any faults identified and provide control room back-up when the [local] police aren’t able to monitor the CCTV.

"Currently Highland Council is the only council in Scotland not to receive any financial contribution from Police Scotland and we are in consultation with them to discuss this and look for a contribution."

Councillor Bremner concluded by saying he wanted the community to know about the upgraded system and "the investment and the effort to keep the local community safe" with a much better ability now to catch the perpetrators of crime and anti-social behaviour.

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