Harrogate council charge police over £110,000 for CCTV since 2016
Last updated Jun 23, 2022
A CCTV camera on a ginnel off West Park in Harrogate.

Harrogate Borough Council has charged North Yorkshire Police over £110,000 to check and supply its CCTV footage since 2016, the Stray Ferret can reveal.

The council has a network of 212 CCTV cameras across the district to help prevent and detect crime. It has a manned control room that operates 24/7.

But it does not supply footage to the police for free and last month the Stray Ferret reported it asks the force to pay a fee of £57 per hour for the service.

We submitted a freedom of information request to the council that asked how much it has charged North Yorkshire Police in total since 2016.

The answer revealed a total bill of £114,005, which amounts to about £20,000 a year on average. The sum fell noticeably during covid lockdowns in 2021/22.

The annual breakdown is below:

  • 2016/17 £23,410
  • 2017/18 £19,598
  • 2018/19 £20,251
  • 2019/20 £18,992
  • 2020/21 £13,400
  • 2021/22  £18,354

Crime prevention

Ripon has been plagued by well-documented anti-social behaviour and crime in recent years.

The council operates 10 CCTV cameras in the city but Andrew Williams, the leader of Ripon City Council and the North Yorkshire county councillor for Ripon Minster and Moorside, said the charge deters police from following up crime reports.

He said:

“It is ironic that Harrogate Borough Council’s homes and safer communities team appears more interested in making commercial charges to the police, rather than working in partnership with them to help in the detection and arrest of criminals.”

Andrew Williams

Cllr Andrew Williams

Cllr Williams calculated that the £18,354 charge for the last financial year worked out at less than one hour of CCTV footage a day.

He suggested this means NYP is being selective in which footage it requests and could be missing out on catching criminals.

He added:

“When considering the size of the Harrogate district and the number of CCTV cameras installed across it, that indicates that police, with pressure on their budgets, are having to be selective in their purchasing of footage and only calling on the services of the HBC CCTV monitoring team for the most serious incidents that they are investigating.”

“At a public meeting in Ripon last month, police admitted that nobody had been arrested for the vandal attacks, in part because they could not pinpoint the exact time of each incident and would have to go through hours of footage, which would not necessarily provide the quality of footage required to identify an individual or individuals.”

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‘Shameful’ charges

Business owner Andrew Hart, who owns the Red Box post offices in Bilton and Starbeck, has previously raised concerns about anti-social behaviour in both areas.

Mr Hart has two private CCTV cameras in his post offices. He said he supplies any footage to the police for free if they ask for it and called the council’s decision to charge “shameful”.

The council currently operates one CCTV camera in Starbeck.

Andrew Hart

He said:

“We are often needing to refer back to our two CCTV systems on both police and private request. It is something we do out of a sense of duty to both the community and in our joint responsibility to fight anti-social behaviour.

“Yes, it takes time and costs us money but we all have to do our bit, surely. I think it is shameful that any council should charge our grossly overstretched police for this service.”

Council’s response

A council spokesperson said:

“CCTV across the Harrogate district, which is owned and managed by Harrogate Borough Council, has ongoing infrastructure and running costs.

“As well as the costs to maintain the service, there are also costs associated with a CCTV control room, staffing and the on-going safe storage of footage.

“Should anyone wish to obtain a copy of any footage, this would require an appropriate individual reviewing it first, followed by providing the footage securely along with a witness statement. All while adhering to the Data Protection Act 1998.

“Therefore, any third-party that wishes to view and use any CCTV footage – such as an insurance company, enforcement agency or the police – is charged to do so.”

North Yorkshire Police declined to comment.

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