At the latest Lochgelly Community Council meeting held on the 11th May, community councillors repeated calls for CCTV to be installed in the Lochgelly Public Park to capture ‘undesirable’ and ‘inconsiderate’ behaviour from youths and other park-users.
CCTV systems within the park have been proposed on several occasions by Lochgelly Community Council and repeated by Labour activist, LCC secretary and chair of the sub-committee, the Public Park Improvement Group, Mr Murray, during a discussion highlighting the completion of the MUGA court at the Public Park.
Mr Murray said that the MUGA court “is a success, no-one is using it, but neither were they using the previous space, so it is a success. It will be an asset to the park”
Community councillors commented that the first weekend that the MUGA court was open to the public “a higher number of youths, more than usual, went to the MUGA court. We asked police and community wardens to increase patrols in the area.”
The casual demonisation of Lochgelly youths was continued with calls for a CCTV system, which may initially be a “costly” mobile CCTV unit operated by Fife Council, which they hoped would capture and discourage “inconsiderate” and “irresponsible” behaviour from dog-owners.
Reviewing earlier minutes for the Lochgelly Community Council, CCTV has been previously proposed for the MUGA court and calls for it by the LCC were repeated on Facebook by an unnamed community councillor; “The Public Park Improvement Group have been in discussions with Fife Council about costing CCTV installation”
Police attending the meeting pointed out that Lochgelly statistically is a very low crime-rate area, with only 20 violent crimes committed last year in the area, 16 of which were domestic abuse cases.
Several community councillors expressed doubt over the statistics presented by the police officer, and community councillors agreed to request further access to the data.
The calls for CCTV by community councillors were not backed by factual crime data to show that there is a need for CCTV in the public park. Backing for the CCTV system appears to be based on the perception that youths cannot be trusted in the local area, and that some park users were “inconsiderate” and “irresponsible”.
Local police statistics from 2009 show that CCTV is an ineffectual tool for reducing crime “Between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2009, 645 crimes were recorded as having been committed in the Lochgelly area. Of these crimes, 312 were detected. It is not possible to identify those crimes where CCTV played a part in their detection without reviewing each one. In that last year, 63 incidents were captured on CCTV and Officers requested 73 reviews of historical CCTV footage.”
During a time of austerity cuts Fife Council has spent a total of £1,261,047 on installing and maintaining CCTV systems throughout the Kingdom. Since 2012 Fife Council has had a total spend of £72,395 on fixed CCTV installations. Since 2012 the cost to Fife Council to maintain and operate the CCTV system has cost the taxpayer £94,358 annually.
In 2012, Big Brother Watch reported that Fife has the 2nd highest number of CCTV cameras out of all local authorities in the UK, and manages more CCTV than Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds combined.
As yet, Lochgelly community council have not provided or used crime data to determine if there is a requirement for CCTV. Instead they are relying on hearsay and conjecture, while reasonable concerns about privacy and civic society have not been discussed.
Nor have discussions been held over the type of data that will be captured by the proposed CCTV systems in the Public Park, given that modern CCTV cameras are capable of capturing biometric data and audio.
As yet, discussions have been very vague and unclear over what is being proposed and have not involved any public consultation, or even the suggestion that this would be desirable.
Should CCTV be placed in Lochgelly Public Park?
- No (78%, 160 Votes)
- Yes (19%, 39 Votes)
- Unsure (3%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 206