Flags put CCTV at half mast in Horncastle

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Would-be criminals in Horncastle could be avoiding detection because the view from the town’s CCTV cameras is obscured by flags put up for the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.

There has been criticism of the system after two high profile incidents in the town centre – the attempted theft from an ATM machine and the ‘loss’ of a life-saving defibrillator.

In both cases, CCTV cameras failed to cover what happened.

At a town council meeting last week, it emerged the view from two of the cameras in the Market Place was obscured by the flags.

Councillors were also told that the view from some other cameras was affected by trees.

As result of concerns about the system, the town council is withholding payment of £4,500 to East Lindsey District Council as its share of annual CCTV charges.

Two town-based police officers, Sgt Kevin Williams and PCSO Nigel Wass – visited the CCTV control room in Boston after the recent incidents.

PSCO Wass assured councillors that cameras in Horncastle were being monitored.

He said steps were being taken to improve the operation of cameras obscured by flags, and trees affecting other cameras would be cut back.

He revealed new wi-fi cameras would be installed – bringing Horncastle into line with other towns in East Lindsey.

PSCO Wass said he understood Horncastle was fourth in the list of towns waiting for an upgrade.

However, town councillor Jonathan Ferrari said he still had doubts about the reliability of the system.

He also questioned why Horncastle should pay the annual CCTV charge of £4,500 to East Lindsey District Council when the system was sub-standard.

He said: “My understanding is all our cameras should have been upgraded. It appears we are still on an analogue system while other towns have up-to-date Wi-Fi coverage.

“It’s like having a dial-up internet on your computer compared to super-fast broadband.”

Coun Ferrari questioned why it had taken a visit by police officers to highlight the restricted view issue.

Coun Phil Cantwell said he thought the town should consider paying for its own CCTV system – and then claiming the costs back from ELDC.

He said: “That’s what some businesses have done in Boston. How can we say the system protects our community?”

Councillors again voted to delay payment of the £4,500 until they receive assurances that the system is up to scratch.