Weymouth and Portland Borough Council are facing budget cuts and have outlined plans to cut spending on CCTV surveillance by £100,000. This would see the current 24 hours a day, seven days a week, monitoring cut in half.
Traders in the area fear the reduction to 12 hours a day of CCTV monitoring, which will see the most active times observed, will result in a rise in crime and vandalism, impacting on the town’s status as a tourism hotspot.
Tom Philips, outgoing chairman of the Weymouth Shopwatch Scheme, told the Dorset Echo that CCTV is second only to the police as “the most important tool in helping to fight crime within the town centre”.
Retailers currently benefit from the peace of mind of knowing that CCTV observers are always there to observe and report criminal’s behaviour and location and relay this information to ensure quick assistance from the police.
There are fears the removal of the round-the-clock surveillance will encourage criminal activity and put some shoppers off from coming into town centres across the towns.
Philips said: “CCTV is one of the most vital links we have to provide safety and security to us and members of the public.
“As a town and county that thrive on the tourism trade, this would have a detrimental effect on our economy.
“Added to this is the increased risk of violence towards our shop and security staff, who try to provide a safe and enjoyable shopping experience for all who visit.”
Weymouth Shopwatch has launched an online petition calling for the council to re-consider the plans to cut CCTV monitoring.
It describes the plans as “downright dangerous” for people who rely on it for their safety, such as police, security staff and emergency personnel. The petition reads “the loss of the CCTV system WILL result in higher crime levels and ultimately a reduction in tourism”.