Breckland businesses concerned about CCTV switch off

Concerns are growing in the Breckland business community after the district's CCTV cameras were switched off.

The 63-camera system, based in Thetford, covered Watton, Swaffham, Dereham, Thetford and Attleborough and was run by Advanced Monitoring Solutions (AMS), which went into administration.

It was switched off yesterday morning (Tuesday) but a Breckland Council spokesman said the authority was 'working to find the best and quickest solution to get the system up and running'.

West Norfolk Council has offered its knowledge, expertise and officers to ensure coverage is maintained but it is not yet known when the cameras will be switched back on, according to the spokesman.

Samantha Taylor, Attleborough mayor, publican and mother, said: 'There are grave concerns and it is not just a criminal issue, but a social issue too. Hopefully it will be resolved.'

Mrs Taylor, who runs the London Tavern, said she had fears for vulnerable people in public places who needed monitoring, as well as the risk of more anti-social behaviour.

Tony Perkins, butcher and Attleborough town councillor, said: 'From a business point of view it does leave you a little bit vulnerable.'

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The butcher, who has shops in Mattishall, Attleborough and Dereham, said the switch off made him feel 'insecure'.

Graham Eves, operations manager of the George Hotel in Swaffham and member of the town's business forum, said: 'It is a great shame. You shouldn't be losing a service like that when you have come to rely on it. We need it back.

'As with all publicans CCTV plays a big part in the safety of our business. It has picked up on incidents of anti-social behaviour.'

Breckland Labour leader Terry Jermy said: 'This is a busy time at the moment with the Olympics and people out and about for summer and public events and the fact the cameras have been turned off is very concerning, given the reassurances Breckland has given over the past few weeks. The question will be how long will they be turned off for?'

Keith Gilbert, independent district councillor for Watton, said: 'If it is still being monitored it should be no change. I don't see it being a huge problem, we'll just have to wait and see.'

The council said it became aware AMS was in trouble a month ago and it had signed a �3.5m 10-year contract in 2009 with the operator.

The Breckland spokesman added: 'The parts of the system we use that had been provided by AMS were turned off by the administrator today (Tuesday). We had limited information as to what the system would do when these aspects were swtiched off.

'We will continue to work with West Norfolk Council to identify best options going forward. Any interim solutions to keep the system in operation will be within existing budgets.'