Soham Town Council has and continues to express its deep concerns regarding policing and police presence in more rural towns and villages. Unlike its more urban counterparts this inequality of service provision remains a fundamental challenge in undertaking effective community policing of minor crime including antisocial behaviours. There needs to be leveling up of Public services not only wrt to the well publicized North South divide but that of the urban vs rural divide in Society.
Back in 2018 Soham Town Council campaigned to press and advocate for better policing in its Town and wrote to and received a number of letters from Mr Ablewhite (then Commissioner) concerning STC’s concerns and complaints arising from lack of community policing in Soham (rural towns and villages). Those letters and responses may be viewed here.
These public meetings and the town council’s written concerns elicited an unsolicited but insightful perspective on matters from a retired police officer and member of the public who has given permission for this article to be reproduced on this website.
Soham Town Council has had little positive impact on this socially troubling and escalating issue in the intervening years but not unsurprisingly continues to receive numerous resident complaints regarding parking infringement, obstructions and other minor infractions including antisocial behaviours that blight the lives and Rights of law abiding citizens.
In 2019-20 Soham Town Council invested in new CCTV cameras throughout the town and hopes to expand this system effective reach incrementally in coming years. This system is supported by AI (artificial intelligence) software which allows amongst other advantages
- Remote access (not requiring dedicated facilities, staffing and overheads)
- Automatic detection and alarm provision which obviate the need for real time monitoring removing the need for chain of evidence (custody) to warranted Officers being present in witness.
- Automated number plate recognition (APNR)
- Monitoring movements (using specific recognition parameters & patterns)
The system has been used to great effect by East Cambridgeshire District Council in deterring fly tipping by its civil enforcement team. This Authority is now looking at being delegated to undertake other civil enforcement issues including parking infringement and this AI system will assist in this process by active detection (see FOI).
The Team Lead Cllr, Cllr Warner is now liaising with the newly appointed Crime and Police Commissioner to determine whether this system can aid in criminal activity, detection and its reduction as deterrent. From a recent virtual roundtable meeting held in July 2021 Cllr Warner has requested an agreed interface and arrangement protocol for the use of this CCTV system by the Police which is currently under the Commissioner’s review and consideration.