Radio Service links multiple county-wide Shopwatch Schemes on CCTV/radio project
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
East Lancashire's new CCTV HUB

A central CCTV/radio HUB has been set up to cut crime across East Lancashire. The HUB based at the King George's Hall, Blackburn covers nearly 250 cameras across five districts (Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle and Preston)

The HUB operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and has access to CCTV images, Shopwatch/Pubwatch radios and police radios to help reduce response times to incidents throughout the area

Icom radio dealer, Radio Service has installed a network of Shopwatch and Pubwatch radio schemes using Icom’s RMS Net Management system, networked over Radio over IP (ROIP) by a series for VE-PG3 controllers across the county. The VE-PG3 controllers (pictured below) allow all radio calls to be routed centrally to the CCTV/HUB, allowing the operator to quickly monitor any incidents and take action where necessary. The radio schemes use Icom IC-F4162, IC-F4102D and IC-F2000 two-way radios and repeaters for coverage.

Greg Wimlett, Radio Service’s technical director, said: “Some councils were struggling to find funding for staffing for their CCTV rooms. Some had closed down CCTV monitoring altogether and some were monitoring for a very short time. So, the benefit is that they get their CCTV system monitored 24/7 in a central control room with all the Shopwatch and Pubwatch links fed through to a central facility.

“Each operator in the HUB has a client PC attached to the back of the touch screen and has the ability to use their headphones or SM-26 desk mic to communicate with users on each scheme. RMS-Net is designed to be fully interactive ensuring the operators are able to monitor and respond rapidly to situations as they occur. In addition, the RMS-Net Management system provides a full log of all radio traffic.”

Peter Waring, CCTV services manager for Blackburn Borough Council, said: “Procurement started about two years ago with a Home Office initiative tackling organised gangs. Blackburn and Darwen put a bid in on behalf of most of the districts across Lancashire. Six districts and the county council were successful in getting that grant, which was subsequently topped up by police innovation fund money and money from the Lancashire police and crime commissioner.

“Once we knew we had funding, we then went out and found an independent consultant and with his assistance produced a comprehensive shopping list/tender document of what we needed for the perfect CCTV control room. This included provision for community radios, Shopwatch radios – down to all the connectivity. This document was then put out to tender.

“This HUB replaces separate CCTV systems. We had one in Preston covering Preston Council cameras, one in Burnley covering Burnley and Pendle cameras and one in Blackburn covering Blackburn and Hyndburn cameras. The downside to this approach is that a gang in one town would be known to the operator but not to another CCTV room in another area. Hopefully, with the creation of this HUB and the sharing of that experience and knowledge, we will be able to spot travelling criminals coming from different towns.

“There was another important improvement. Because of economic cuts, some of the CCTV rooms were suffering from reduced funding and staffing. Now we are operating throughout the year with a minimum of two operators and at a busy time of the day/week such as at the run up to Christmas, we will have more than that level of operators. So essentially, we have better coverage and more eyes in the sky.

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