Headlines: August 31st, 2007

Wigan council and the software solutions company Civica have saved almost a million pounds in police resources by allowing more officers to make use of the authority’s system. Officers are now able to make electronic requests for footage from CCTV cameras monitoring streets and public buildings.

The council has widened the availability of its Civica Authority Public Protection software to include local police stations in Greater Manchester. That means more officers can ask for CCTV clips’ over specified time periods by logging requests electronically. Now Wigan is running a trial of the software as a centralised resource for its Civil Contingencies Group, a step that would give all emergency services in the area access to common data in the event of a major incident.

The software means police can view images from Wigan Council’s more than 550 CCTV cameras without having to make time-consuming journeys, estimated to account for about 90 hours a month of officers’ time. Instead, CCTV operatives find clips based on the location and time specified and attach them to police incident records which can then be viewed by the officers requesting the footage. More than one clip can be attached to the same record to give an evidence log that can be used in the preparation of a prosecution.

Craig Round, Information and Communications Manager in the council’s Environmental Services Department, said both the council and the police had seen an immediate return in terms of time and resources saved. The council also benefits by getting speedier reports of damage to schools and other buildings. The system also enables the repair tasks to be allocated quickly to appropriate local teams, which cuts the time a building may be left insecure or unsafe.

“As a result of working closely with Civica consultants and the potential of the technology, we are looking to centralise the use of Authority Public Protection across departments within the council and with external organisations with which we work, particularly in the field of civil contingencies,” Mr. Round said.