Community support officers monitor Wigan's CCTV system
Wigan Council has had 33 Pelco Esprit cameras, supplied by Norbain, added to their already extensive CCTV system to ensure that they are using the most up to date technology to monitor activity in the city centre. The new cameras have proved very simple to operate and form an important tool in the fight against crime.
Wigan is currently undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment and an essential part of this new scheme is ensuring that people feel safe in the area. One part of the solution comes in the form of CCTV. There are currently 550 cameras in operation across the borough, with continual additions and improvements being made.
In the town centre itself, Terry Bolton, principle officer for Wigan Council, wanted to update the existing kit which was rather complex to operate and had become expensive to maintain.
"We were especially keen to make zooming and focusing easier so that operators could more effectively track suspects," he explained.
Installers Unique Integrated Systems Ltd (UIS) were called in to advise on the project.
"UIS have been the Council Approved Supplier for almost seven years now and the relationship weâ€™ve built up over the years means that we know theyâ€™ll give us excellent advice and service," said Bolton.
The Council has a policy of trialing their CCTV equipment before itâ€™s purchased.
"Dome cameras were initially trialed for the job, but it was found that blind spots prevented them from getting the best view of the surrounding area. The Esprit cameras offer us an overt solution to CCTV," Bolton said. "People donâ€™t know where the dome cameras are looking, but this is obvious with the Esprit cameras and weâ€™ve found this to be more of a deterrent."
The control room has an impressive wall of rear screen projection units along with individual Samsung and Bosch flat screen monitors.
"As with the cameras, we trialed a number of flat screen units before making a decision," explained Bolton. "Interestingly, the morning shift favored the Samsung screens, while the later shift thought the Bosch screens gave a better image quality in reduced light conditions. It made sense to get both so that the best pictures could be viewed whatever the time of day or night."
The Pelco cameras have all been positioned on poles that afford operators a 360 degree view of the area. Each of the columns is within view of another giving overlapping footage. This means that no key area is overlooked and, should a column develop a problem, one of the adjoining columns can cover the area.
Equipment suppliers Norbain played an important part in the project. "Weâ€™ve got an excellent relationship with them," said Mark Ashall, operations director for UIS. "Theyâ€™ve really bent over backwards for us over the years and have always come through, even against very tight time scales. Itâ€™s not just about price with them, itâ€™s the service, technical support and returns policy that really makes the difference."
Looking at the effectiveness of CCTV in the fight against crime, Bolton believes that it certainly plays its part. "CCTV acts both as a deterrent and as an investigative tool for our partners," he said. "All the relevant partners need to work together and communicate regularly to most effectively tackle the problem."