Councils across Oxfordshire are working on creating a centralised CCTV hub to cover the county.
It forms part of a broader plan to roll out the same equipment across the Thames Valley region, which also covers Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, in a bid to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
The plans were detailed by Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Barber during discussions with the region’s Police & Crime Panel – the group of councillors which holds him to account for his work.
Asked for an update on progress towards a CCTV partnership, Mr Barber confirmed that Oxford Direct Services (ODS), an organisation owned by Oxford City Council to deliver cost-effective public and commercial services, had been put forward to run the system on a county-wide basis.
With the Police force recently appointing a new CCTV manager to press ahead with the vision, Mr Barber said, “We’ve broadly got – I think it still needs to be finalised – the specification for what we want the system to be.
“We are looking at trying to get a single specification. We may not be there yet, but when we are renewing equipment, we will buy the same stuff, and we are looking at what the monitoring solution will be.
“I think the first place we are likely to land something where we own everything is probably Milton Keynes because they have the control room there, we have cameras that need renewing now, and we have some capital set aside by the local authority.
“I have put in some money (too), so that’s the first place to go live. I would like to say we would have that in place by the end of the year, but it is probably going to be early next year by the time we have done all the procurement.
“The next places will possibly be in tandem, Slough and Oxfordshire, Slough because of the particular challenges with the local authority, the commissioners effectively saying if it is discretionary, we are not going to do it.
“There is more of a risk there that the CCTV just gets turned off. That is why I met with the commissioners and said if we can get a bit of a grace period, there is a plan for us to step in, but we cannot just do that overnight. We will be working very closely with Slough to try to maintain CCTV.
“Oxfordshire is probably – although it may be behind Milton Keynes in terms of timing – the most advanced because of all the fantastic work that has been going on between the local authorities.
“I think we have got to the stage where all of the districts agree in principle to the proposal that Oxford City Council has led on this. They are looking at Oxford Direct Services potentially running it, and we are just at the stage of reviewing what the specifications of that are, will that fit with the bigger link, and where will the location be – with ODS or in one of the police stations.”