Leeds’s creaking network of CCTV cameras is set for a total overhaul as part of a digital crimefighting drive.
The city’s Leedswatch service, a council and police partnership, runs a network of more than 1,000 cameras in public spaces where crime and anti-social behaviour are potential or proven problems.
The service operates 24/7 and currently includes more than 300 street cameras, 200 bus station cameras, another 20 on industrial estates and hundreds more in council housing tower blocks.
But now the whole network is being reviewed as the authorities aim to replace the current analogue system with digital.
A recent Leeds council meeting was told that the service is currently “soft market testing” new technologies and a “rationalisation exercise” will soon begin to “maximise the cost saving potential”.
The meeting was told that a pilot of digital cameras at council tower blocks in the west of the city has already improved the quality of images being fed to the Leedswatch control room.
A report to the meeting said: “The rationalisation and decommission of circuits will enable Leedswatch and localities to maximise the saving potential.”
The report added that “substantial work” has already taken place “to ensure the Leedswatch control room is now equipped for the development of the digital technology”.
The Leedswatch CCTV service currently operates on a fibre optic transmission network. But the council has been told that the costs to run the network are “inconsistent” across the city.
Ward councillors have now demanded evidence to justify the running costs. The current contract for the network runs out in April 2018.