CCTV Review 2023/24

A consultation inviting views from residents and businesses about the future provision of CCTV cameras in Mole Valley’s public spaces ran for six weeks, closing on Monday 20 November 2023. Background information as to why CCTV provision in the district needed to be reviewed, and why the number of CCTV cameras in place will ultimately have to reduce, can be found further down this page.

Over 400 responses were received to the consultation .Thank you to everyone who either completed an online consultation or the paper versions available from Dorking and Leatherhead libraries.

The results have now been reviewed, and the statistical analysis and comments from the open text boxes will help inform the decision about what public space CCTV provision will look like in Mole Valley from later this year.

A final decision is expected to be made in the summer. The statistical results of the consultation can be found below:

Taking into account: a) Surrey Police’s decision to stop monitoring CCTV because they now favour other forms of evidence and b) the data showing it has limited use in crime detection, do you think public space CCTV still represents value for money for MVDC?

  • Yes: 192 responses (48.5%)
  • No: 151 responses (38.1%)
  • Don’t know: 53 responses (13.4%)

How safe do you feel in a public area that you know is covered by one or more CCTV cameras?

  • Slightly safer: 147 responses (37%)
  • Very safe: 95 responses (23.9%)
  • Not sure where CCTV is in the district: 75 responses (18.9%)
  • CCTV makes no difference: 52 responses (13.1%)
  • Preference for no CCTV: 21 responses (5.3%)
  • Not sure: 7 responses (1.8%)

In which locations do you think CCTV should be prioritised? (1 being the highest, to 3 the least)

  • MVDC facilities e.g. parks and playgrounds: 794 total score (Rank 1)
  • Public streets and footpaths: 783 total score (Rank 2)
  • MVDC’s car parks: 763 total score (Rank 3)

There are four options concerning the future provision of public space CCTV in Mole Valley. Options 2, 3 and 4 represent the best available options that MVDC could afford within its current budget. Please select the option that you feel is most in line with your views. When making your choice, please consider the following:

– The Police’s decision to withdraw from CCTV monitoring is because of operational and financial reasons, instead increasingly relying on footage captured by other means such as from a mobile phone or dash camera
– Over half of the 51 CCTV cameras have not been called upon once by the Police during the period April 2022-April 2023 to gather retrospective footage after a crime was reported to them, and there was very little use of live viewing cameras in Mole Valley
– MVDC does not use the footage from CCTV cameras for our own operational purposes
– MVDC currently spends over £40,000 a year on CCTV cameras.

If the decision was to retain use of 30-20 cameras, they would need to be replaced at a cost of up to £100,000 early next year

  • 30 CCTV cameras (24 -hour record-only): 131 responses (33.3%)
  • 25 CCTV cameras (combination of 24-hour record-only and live monitoring) 118 responses (30%)
  • Withdrawal of all 51 CCTV cameras: 99 responses (25%)
  • 20 CCTV cameras (12-hour live monitoring, plus 24-hour record-only): 46 responses (11.7%)

It is important to distinguish between the CCTV in public spaces that Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) and Surrey Police currently provide, and other CCTV in operation on private premises e.g. shops. This consultation concerns the 51 cameras in public places such as parks and open spaces and town and village high streets. The number of cameras in each location are:

  • Ashtead – 5
  • Bookham – 3
  • Dorking – 28
  • Leatherhead – 15

For the past 20 years, MVDC has worked in partnership with Surrey Police to provide and monitor public realm CCTV in the district. MVDC pays for the cameras and signalling costs and Surrey Police pays for monitoring at their Control Room in Reigate Police Station. MVDC has no separate need for CCTV to fulfil its operational roles.

For financial and operational reasons, Surrey Police has decided to withdraw from these long-standing CCTV partnerships and are closing their monitoring centres across Surrey in favour of providing a contribution towards the cost of future CCTV should local councils choose to take over responsibility.

The Police’s view is that traditional CCTV in public places no longer represents value for money due to the decline in its use for the detection of crime and disorder. This is as a result of the increased use of other forms of evidence such as footage from mobile phones, dash cams, Ring doorbells, shop CCTV etc.

MVDC does not use the footage from CCTV in providing its services, the Police are the primary users.

Initially the CCTV control room currently operated by Surrey Police will close. While Surrey Police will continue to provide an amount of funding (with the exact figure to be confirmed in 2024), maintaining the current number of cameras would involve a significant increase in costs to MVDC. Given the view from Surrey Police that CCTV does not provide value for money when combating crime, there is no justification for such an increase in our costs.

We are therefore putting forward four options as part of this consultation to understand what residents and businesses would like to see in relation to CCTV provision.

Three of the options would provide between 20 – 30 cameras. The locations of the 20 – 30 cameras would be determined through a combination of usage figures and wider crime statistics.

The other option is to withdraw CCTV from the district entirely. Public space CCTV is not a statutory responsibility for councils. Waverley and Tandridge councils do not provide public realm CCTV.

Any re-provision would probably need to locate cameras in existing positions, as the cost of providing new infrastructure for additional sites is likely to be cost prohibitive. Similarly, future replacement costs would need to be considered. Any replacement CCTV infrastructure that we install would also need to be re-routed to a new CCTV control room, given the closure of the existing CCTV control room.

Currently Mole Valley District Council spends over £40k per year on CCTV equipment and signalling and Surrey Police covers the costs of monitoring from their monitoring centres. Like every council, MVDC is having to produce a balanced budget in challenging economic circumstances, with savings of nearly £1m required in 2023/24 and further savings of £3.5m to be identified over the next four years.

MVDC needs to consider the benefits and costs of keeping CCTV in public spaces against the effectiveness of the cameras before making any final decision on what the future provision will be.

If the decision is made to keep some level of public CCTV in Mole Valley, initially all cameras will need to be replaced when the current CCTV control room closes. The cost of replacing the cameras has been estimated at £100,000 for up to 30 cameras, and these would need to be replaced roughly every 3 years.

Currently, all 51 cameras in the district are available for live monitoring by the CCTV Operators at Reigate Control Room, and footage is also recorded 24/7. This means that the cameras can be monitored live, or footage can be pulled from a recording and viewed in the event of an incident occurring in the proximity of a camera.

Of the 51 cameras currently in use, our records show that more than half (28) have not been viewed, either live or retrospectively, between April 2022 – March 2023.

In most cases, the number of times a camera has been viewed is less than 10, and the highest number of views for a single camera is 26 in a 12-month period. In relation to footage being monitored live, Mole Valley’s cameras were watched, in real time, for less than 1% of the available viewing time throughout this period.

During this same 12-month period, there were a total of 15 arrests that were supported by the results of CCTV footage captured via one or more of the cameras in Mole Valley.

The Reigate CCTV control room will close in the near future and conversations are taking place about the potential for working together with other districts and boroughs.

While Surrey Police has committed to provide some money towards the continued provision of CCTV in Mole Valley, the cost for MVDC to provide and maintain the current number of cameras will exceed its budget for CCTV. Given the need to save over £4m over the next 4 years, an increase to our existing costs is not an option, particularly given the fact that Surrey Police no longer consider CCTV to be value for money in relation to crime detection.

Councils have responded to Surrey Police’s withdrawal of CCTV monitoring in different ways. Some have opted to reduce their camera coverage and prioritised the monitoring of council-owned spaces such as car parks and playgrounds to secure their own assets against vandalism, as well as providing reassurance to the public.

Others have made bids for external funding to monitor streets and footpaths which are maintained by Surrey County Council. MVDC made a bid for funding however was discounted in favour of areas with more distinct problem areas.

MVDC wants to understand the significance our residents and businesses place on public space CCTV in our district, in order to help us make the decision about the provision of cameras in Mole Valley once Surrey Police withdraw.