Back to the future for Bournemouth, as local authority blazes the CCTV pioneer trail again

In 1985 when Spielberg was producing Back to the Future, Bournemouth Borough Council was creating its own frenzy of attention in the UK with the introduction of a beach-side urban CCTV scheme that was the first of its kind. Back in ’85, Bournemouth was turning heads not just at home, but abroad, too. Almost three decades later, it’s doing it again; Bournemouth is yet again pioneering in the CCTV world and innovating to further protect its citizens, visitors and property – both now – and in the future.

This time, Bournemouth is introducing ‘white light’ Predator cameras from 360 Vision Technology, which are already delivering tangible results and are set to put local authorities all over the country one step ahead of criminals in the continuous fight to protect public safety. Bournemouth now has over 30 Predator cameras integrated into its beach-front and town centre urban CCTV scheme, targeting specific criminal activities in known incident hot spots, where continuous manned surveillance is neither aesthetically pleasing nor affordable.

The beach-front Predator cameras are fixed, whilst at locations in the town centre, redeployable Predator cameras can be rapidly moved to other transient crime hotspots as and when required. All are seamlessly integrated into Bornemouth’s central control, where operators can direct individual cameras and put potential criminals ‘in the spotlight’, 24/7.

Tony Gleason, CCTV Manager for Community Safety at Bournemouth Borough Council, says the investment made by the Council is extremely worthwhile: “With over 50m visitors per year coming to Bournemouth, we have both a social and economic duty of care to protect everyone to the best of our ability – and that means using the best and most appropriate cameras for our needs. In the case of 360 Vision Technology’s white light Predators, most people don’t even notice them high up along the beach-front, but when there is any suspicious activity, they kick into action.

“In the first year of installation of the Predator camera, we have already started to see a return on investment; several specific crimes have been detected and numerous incidents potentially prevented by the presence of these new cameras, including incidences of Burglary, Theft, Criminal damage and Assault. The beauty of the Predator is that you can monitor people using the Infra Red (IR) and then switch to White light to either deter or identify criminal activity. The cameras were used extensively during the Air Festival which attracted over 1 million visitors to the town.

“The directional white light capability of the Predator means we can see what’s going on better and produce high quality evidence, but just as importantly the potential criminal can see that there are likely to be real repercussions from their actions. Once an operator trains the camera on a suspect and the white light alerts the potential offender to surveillance taking place, more often than not the incident doesn’t develop into criminal and anti-social behaviours.”

Former Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary, Graeme Gerrard, was recently appointed as advisor to 360 Vision Technology, bringing a wealth of expertise from the worlds of policing, security and crime prevention. Former DCC Gerrard recognises both the potential of the white light Predator, and how Bournemouth is once again the pioneer at the forefront of the security industry, harnessing some of the most effective and ground breaking technologies.

“Bournemouth presents many of the safety and security challenges faced by numerous other authorities across the land,“ said Graeme Gerrard. “They were ahead of the game in 1985 when they were the first town to deploy CCTV in a public space, and I believe Bournemouth are ahead of the game now in their use of white light technology. The Predator with its directional white light is a real feather in the cap of crime prevention and detection; if people are thinking rationally it acts as a compelling deterrent, as unlike conventional cameras it doesn’t merely observe passively, it is a proactive tool that lets perpetrators know they are being watched. The natural human response to being watched when about to commit an offence is to desist and exit the area as soon as possible. That’s what we all want, as there are no prizes for ‘repeat custom’ when it comes to crime. Dealing with less incidents saves Councils money in the long-run, which means the Predator is a better ‘ value for money’ option than its competitors.

“For the minority of occasions where the criminal is not thinking rationally for whatever reason, you can’t always prevent an incident. However, with the true colour high resolution images provided by the Predator, you have a much greater level of confidence that your evidence could ultimately be good enough to help secure a conviction.”

Sales Manager for 360 Vision Technology, Adrian Kirk, said: “We are naturally delighted that the country’s first local authority CCTV pioneer has turned to us for a solution. The technology works especially well in Bournemouth as there is such a high level of co-operation between the Borough Council, the local police and other agencies, and because everyone is pulling together as part of the same vision to keep the streets of Bournemouth safe.

“Predator’s success is testament to many years of British R&D. We are proud to be a UK designer, manufacturer, supplier and employer, and we look forward to writing the next chapter of the company’s success story as the country’s local authorities and other organisations start to realise that British is once again best.”