UK police leaders object to CCTV program

Plan calls for using unpaid volunteers to monitor town's surveillance system


Police leaders have condemned a scheme to use unpaid civilian volunteers to monitor CCTV footage instead of trained and paid professionals.

Dorset Police is advertising for members of the public to watch live images from street security cameras across three towns to help spot crimes and anti-social behaviour.

The volunteers, who will be given training and will have to sign a confidentiality agreement, will help man a control room in unpaid four-hour shifts.

They will alert the police to any signs of suspicious behaviour in Blandford, Shaftesbury and Gillingham, expanding an existing scheme covering the town of Wimborne.

Inspector Phil Cheverton, section commander for North Dorset, insisted the volunteers would not be performing tasks that would otherwise go to trained police officers.

'Our CCTV system is not permanently monitored because it isn't cost effective as our crime levels are so low in Dorset,' he said.

But Clive Chamberlain, chairman of the Dorset Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, condemned the volunteer plan as 'Dad's Army' policing on the cheap, blaming it on poor funding levels.

'Dorset Police is not a charity shop or a hospital canteen, and we should not have to depend on asking people to come in for nothing,' he said.