Hundreds of arrests have been made, crimes averted and vulnerable people helped thanks to the expertise of DDC’s eagle-eyed CCTV operators.
New figures from the council’s Annual CCTV Report show a total of 3,655 incidents were captured on camera across the district by the control room team in 2022/23.
Of those, 1,785 required the attendance of Kent Police and resulted in 279 arrests. The team also assisted 217 vulnerable people, including missing people and those suffering mental health crises.
But it’s not only crime and safeguarding they’re focused on. The cameras and operators help keep Dover moving during peak travel times or following road incidents.
They also assist DDC with its key responsibilities including tackling environmental crime, and monitoring events and the nighttime economy.
It’s no mean feat for the operators, who work 12-hour shifts, watching footage from the district’s 114 cameras, while manning phones and monitoring two radios, including one Kent Police device.
They are also part of the Dover Partnership Against Crime (DPAC) radio scheme which links in with businesses in the town to help reduce crimes such as shoplifting.
From July, out-of-hours calls – previously monitored externally – will also be moved in-house and manned by the DDC control room team.
It’s something David Parratt, DDC’s principal community safety, emergency planning and CCTV officer, believes will be valuable for the district.
“All of our operators are local people with vast experience, who know the area very well,” he said.
“They understand the local safeguarding issues and they have that depth of knowledge about what’s going on across the district and where the hotspots are.
“They have years of experience between them and can spot something on a camera that someone else would miss.”
It’s this expertise which has led to some crucial interventions over the past year.
In one instance, while conducting routine patrols of CCTV footage, an operator noticed a female acting erratically on Dover promenade and then trying to climb over the railings on the pier. The operator immediately notified police who took her to a place of safety.
In another incident, the CCTV control room was made aware of a missing elderly man with dementia. Within an hour, the operator had located him and directed police patrols to his whereabouts.
Mr Parratt said: “Our role is detecting and preventing crime, gathering evidence, safeguarding and assisting partner agencies to help those most at risk.
“CCTV isn’t used to gather information about people going about their daily business or minor breaches which do not impact upon public safety.
“The cameras are a powerful tool in the continuing fight against crime.”
Cameras are strategically located in Dover, Deal, Sandwich, Aylesham and Wingham, and all are overt, with signs to indicate their presence in the area.
The new Community Roots van has CCTV installed on a retractable eight-metre column and this can be used at events around the district.
Cllr Charlotte Zosseder, cabinet member for community and corporate property, said: “CCTV helps create a safer community and provides reassurance to the public.
“The team here at DDC work tirelessly alongside partner agencies to assist vulnerable people and prevent anti-social behaviour and crime to make the Dover district a safer place for residents and visitors.”
Kent Police’s Community Safety Unit Inspector Paul Barrell said: “CCTV can be very reassuring for the public and it assists us regularly in helping to prevent crime and stop incidents from escalating.
“There is a radio scheme which enables information to be shared between CCTV control rooms, businesses and the police, supporting the immediate detection or prevention of crime. The footage can also provide vital evidence to assist officers in their investigations.
“The CCTV control room in Dover is innovative and highly impressive, certainly the best I’ve seen outside of London.
“Partnership work like this is key in reducing crime and creating safer environments for people to enjoy.”
To read DDC’s latest Annual CCTV Report or for more information about the cameras go to www.dover.gov.uk and search CCTV.
Posted on 21 June 2023