Since the introduction of CCTV in Northampton in 1992, it has become a valuable tool in helping to detect crime. The police work with the CCTV Control Room team, in an effort to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in our area. The CCTV system also works alongside neighbourhood wardens and environmental health officers.
The CCTV operators monitor the Police Airwave radios. When they hear of an incident occurring, the operators and the cameras are there very quickly, assisting the police in detecting offenders, providing evidence admissible in court to assist convictions and helping to improve perceptions of safety.
- The CCTV control room operators assisted the police with 15,566 incidents and monitored 1,821 arrests. That's an average of 43.7 incidents every day (per 2014/15 data). In total 2,458 incidents were reviewed by the police; of which 1,484 discs were secured for evidence.
- The CCTV cameras have very powerful lenses and can identify an offender by his face at 150 metres and can identify an offender by his clothing at 200 metres. At 200 metres, the offender cannot even see the CCTV camera.
- The CCTV Control Room is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- The control room monitors cameras in Northampton and Wellingborough.
- The majority of camera signals are bought back to the control room using fibre optic links, although some cameras are hard-wired direct to the control room, some comeback via a dedicated microwave link and some come back by broadband.
- The CCTV controllers have a direct radio link to shops and licensed premises through the Retail Radio Link and Pub-link - radio networks that keep members in touch with information about suspicious activity and give speedy contact if an incident takes place.
- We have direct audio and video access with the police headquarters, enabling the police to monitor incidents as they occur. As an offender is being tracked, the police can talk to the CCTV Operators via a dedicated telephone line, and direct police officers to the exact location. The CCTV Operators can talk directly with officers at a scene via the police radios.
- CCTV operators won the British Security Industry Association's regional award for Best Use of Technology in 2011. This was their fourth win in a row and they have also scooped the national award in the same category three times in the past four years. CCTV system is audited once a year by the National Security Inspectorate. You can request a copy of the CCTV Annual Report by emailing CCTV
- Complaints about CCTV can be made by contacting the Town Centre Manager as per section 4.1.3 of the Code of Practice.
The recording process
The CCTV Control Room monitors 429 cameras.
Privacy zones are programmed onto the cameras. This is a graphical mask programmed into the camera by the manager, to block out private areas such as flats, offices, etc. These cannot be removed unless a request is received from a senior police officer. Then, they can only be removed by authorised personnel.
Every camera records 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, using a digital recording platform. The system records each camera at a rate of 4 frames per second and each image is retained for 30 days. That's a massive amount of storage space used; however, the playback quality is remarkable. There are no facilities for sound on the cameras, nor on each of the 112 monitors in the CCTV Control Room. This, along with the privacy zones, helps us to keep to civil liberties requirements.
Public access to recordings
Legislation relating to the collation of public CCTV images is very strict, as is viewing the images. It is important that we fully understand and adhere to the Data Protection Act of 1998. We are also duty bound by legislation relating to the European Convention on Human Rights and the RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers) Act of 2000.
Anyone can be given access to video footage of themselves or of their own personal property; however, requests to view activities of a third person, will not be investigated, unless it is a police officer or other authorised person, making enquiries to help reduce or detect crime and disorder issues within the locality.
If you have a requirement to view video footage of yourself or your property, follow these simple steps and we will hopefully be able to assist you with your own investigation.
Contact the Northampton Borough Council Records Management department in writing, giving as much information about the incident as possible, i.e. time, date, exact location, full description of yourself along with details of the incident. (Please note, the images are only held for thirty days. We cannot assist if the incident was prior to 30 days.)
Once the footage has been examined, you will be contacted in writing to tell you of the outcome of the search. If you then wish to view the video footage for yourself, a CD / DVD will be prepared so that the identity of every other person or vehicle or personal property of a third person is removed from the footage before we can allow you to view it. This viewing will incur a charge.
For security reasons the control room is not contactable by the public. Please report all incidents to Northamptonshire Police on 101. They will liaise with the CCTV Control Room staff.
Northampton Borough Council operates a strict Code of Practice, modelled on the Home Office approved code. This covers all aspects of CCTV operation including the operators' use of the cameras with regards to privacy issues.
You are welcome to come along as an organised group and view the CCTV Control Room and to speak to the staff working the cameras. Please contact the CCTV Control Room Manager.