CCTV on Jesus Green


Friday, April 18th, 2008. 12:17am

Martin Beaumont (City Council’s CCTV Manager),

CC: Independent Punter’s Campaign

I have recently had my attention drawn to the cameras in the bowling pavilion on Jesus Green. I am aware there are signs on the building, but believe that the way the cameras are mounted in holes in the wooden wall of the building, behind wire grills make them in my opinion essentially hidden cameras. As usual the area covered is not signed, and if the purpose of the cameras is to monitor the actions of independent punt operators I think that comes very close to, if not overstepping, the point of using the cameras to monitor individuals.

Using hidden cameras, and monitoring individuals in this way are contrary to the council’s code of practice on CCTV usage.

Richard Taylor
Cambridge

Update:

I am sorry Mr Taylor these are not my cameras and I do not know who owns them. We DO NOT deploy covert cameras.
Martin


Update – So with the Council’s CCTV manager denying responsibility I wrote to other people at the council:Alastair Roberts (City Council Safer Communities Manager, and Green Spaces Manager),
Ian Nimmo-Smith (Executive Councillor responsible for CCTV*)I have recently had my attention drawn to the CCTV cameras in the bowling pavilion on Jesus Green.

I am aware there are signs on the building, but believe that the way the cameras are mounted in holes in the wooden wall of the building, behind wire grills make them in my opinion essentially hidden cameras. As usual in Cambridge, the area covered by the cameras is not signed, and if the purpose of the cameras is to monitor the actions of independent punt operators I think that comes very close to, if not overstepping, the point of using the cameras to monitor individuals.

Using hidden cameras, monitoring individuals in this way and not signing the area covered are all contrary to the council’s code of practice on CCTV usage.

The City Council’s CCTV manager Martin Beaumont has told me they are not “his” cameras he does not know who owns them, stating “We DO NOT deploy covert cameras.”

If these are “your cameras” why is one section of the City Council deploying CCTV cameras in contravention of the City Council’s code of practice on CCTV usage, and why are all such cameras covering public spaces owned and operated by the City Council not under the control of the council’s CCTV manager.

Richard Taylor
Cambridge

*According to http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/download/asset/?asset_id=5685007

Update – 9th May 2008

Dear Mr Taylor,

I am sorry for the delay in responding to your e-mail of 18th April 2008.

The cameras covering the River frontage at Jesus Green are overt. There is signage clearly denoting their presence and that they are in operation. Some members of the public observed the installation and the fact that you, and others, are aware of their presence confirms the overt nature of the installation. The reason they are behind wire grills is for protection of the Council’s equipment from vandalism. However, the cameras protrude in such a way as to make their presence obvious and the area being observed.

The presence of the cameras is to protect the City Council’s property, that is to say the River frontage at Jesus Green, from unlawful use. At present they are monitoring activity levels but their use in legal proceedings for unlawful use by individuals cannot be ruled out.

A number of Departments of the City Council will, from time to time, deploy cameras. These cameras are not part of the Public CCTV Service nor do they come under the control of the City CCTV Manager. The collection of data is subject to the same rules as those that apply to any Council owned CCTV installation.

Yours sincerely,

Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts
Safer Communities Section Manager
Cambridge City Council

Update
I attempted to take some direct action and signed the area covered by the cameras myself over the May bank holiday weekend, these signs lasted only a few days before they were apparantly removed.

Update
At some point following my initial emails and direct action some effort to sign the area covered was made, with signs being placed around the area covered, including on the ice-cream kiosk on Jesus green, these signs later had a City Council phone number added by hand using marker pen.

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