Following on from the ASB inquiry and the recommendations relating to CCTV (both of which were deemed to be achieved), an update has been requested with regards to CCTV coverage linked directly to LeedsWatch and progress against the longer term objective of moving over to fibre.
ST updated the board about the work to upgrade all high rise blocks in the city to a digital solution for transferring camera images to Leeds Watch. The project has been ongoing for two years with 26 blocks currently connected via digital fibre to Leeds Watch out of a total of 116 blocks. There had been a significant delay to the upgrade process due to the requirement to procure a new fibre supplier to meet all Leeds’ requirements in addition to this project. There will be a contract in place by the end of March, and should enable acceleration to progress for the camera upgrade.
The Chair questioned that the board had previously been told the upgrade would take two years and in that timeframe should have been complete by now, ST responded that initially that was the case, however the securing of a fibre supplier had a significant impact on the initial schedule. CF explained the new supplier contract is important as it covers other digital needs such as internet, Wi-Fi, and communications infrastructure as well as the camera feeds.
SB asked if there will be preference given to any blocks that still use the older CCTV system, ST responded that all blocks that are currently due to be upgraded will be, but the order they are completed will be designated by the work program.
The Chair asked about the viability of some older systems until the digital fibre is installed, for example rooftop signal transmission. ST replied that all blocks currently have a mixture of solutions that are all viable, but the goal is to unify the method. The rooftop signal can be affected by range, weather, and line of sight. Some blocks still have an on-site hard drive recording method that can be accessed by engineers. The drives record 31 days’ worth of footage after which it over-writes the oldest data unless it is requested by police or other appropriate authorities.
The Chair asked if there any blocks with no CCTV at all, CF responded that all blocks have some form of coverage as far as Leeds Watch are aware, and that all blocks in West Leeds are on the digital system. The Chair asked what the camera coverage is like for the digital blocks, ST responded that coverage is full for the ground floor entrances and exits, as well as the lifts. SB commented that the cameras in some block lifts do not appear to have been upgraded despite signs from Leeds Watch communicating that all cameras have been upgraded. ST confirmed that all cameras are upgraded when the work takes place, and the signs and communications are the responsibility of the contractors when work goes ahead, and any enquiries should be made to planned works.
KM reminded the board that there is a programme of tenant engagement sessions taking place at all high rise blocks in the city, beginning with those where there are indications of lower satisfaction. Officers are attending the sessions to hear tenants’ views or issues and inform tenants of future investment plans relating to individual blocks. Reminder notices are being sent via text to tenants in the blocks ahead of each scheduled event with full details, and the sessions will run through to the middle of March. KM suggested those members in high rise properties speak with the investment officers that attend the session if they wish to have a better idea of what, and when, work will be taking place at their block.
KM referred to an issue that had been previously raised, that camera feeds can no longer be viewed on the television in apartments, and confirmed that this is likely a restriction due to GDPR. ST confirmed this is the case, there are some images that will become unavailable however door visitors can still be viewed on screen.
The Chair asked how cameras are monitored at Middleton, ST replied there is a ‘monitor wall’ with live feeds been shown and viewed by trained staff 24/7. The screens can be isolated and viewed based on location as necessary, and the fibre upgrades mean features such as loiter and movement detection can make spotting issues more efficient. CF continued that if there is an incident, only the police can request to view the live feed via a direct link, and recordings can be requested by the police or a solicitor only. The police can also be contacted directly from Middleton office.
The Chair asked if mobile cameras are still in operation as they can be deployed in areas with a high rate of fly tipping and antisocial behaviour. ST responded that mobile cameras are mostly used for events but there is other deployable CCTV that may be used if relevant GDPR permission is obtained.
The Chair asked for clarification on which cameras are council operated and which are police operated in the centre, CF answered that all cameras are Council operated and the only ones operated by the police are temporary or hidden for investigative purposes.
MH asked if there is CCTV for sheltered housing schemes, ST replied that he did not know for certain but the question could be posed to Housing for a response.
The Chair asked if there is an updated time frame for when the upgrade might be completed by, ST replied it would be a guess at this stage, but reiterated that with the award of a new contract in the next month the work would begin to progress much more quickly.