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New Sudbury CCTV network helping to crackdown on crime and anti-social behaviour



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CCTV upgrades in Sudbury have been credited with helping increase detection of crime and anti-social behaviour – but town councillors questioned whether more needed to be done to deter such activity.

Sudbury Town Council received a briefing on the effectiveness of the CCTV in the town – and particularly Belle Vue Park – at its monthly meeting last week, approximately a year on from the new system becoming operational.

An £183,000 investment into improving CCTV provision in both Sudbury and Hadleigh was approved by Babergh District Council at the end of 2020, with contributions from the respective town councils.

Sudbury's Belle Vue Park. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography
Sudbury's Belle Vue Park. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography

Giving an appraisal of the data from 2021, Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s community safety project manager, Peter Watson, revealed that 91 separate incidents had been recorded by CCTV in Sudbury last year, in 33 different categories.

Out of these, 42 led to arrests, the majority of which were for minor offences, in addition to five more serious incidents and six instances of anti-social behaviour.

Mr Watson, who joined the district councils at the end of 2020, said Belle Vue Park had been a particular area of focus.

“Belle Vue Park was highlighted to me as a problem area,” he told the town council meeting. “There have been a lot of different issues – vandalism, arson, gangs gathering there and drug-related activity.

“On March 18, there was an assault in Belle Vue Park, and that was captured by six different cameras.

“I’m aware of the vandalism at the toilets, so there’s a CCTV camera operating there. The problem is that people can see it and they can counteract it.

“We have been putting crime reports into the police, and we have identified some individuals.”

Sudbury mayor Ellen Murphy welcomed the presence of CCTV, but suggested it would be better if it was backed up by ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) technology.

Last month, councillors in Sudbury, Long Melford and Great Cornard formally requested that Suffolk Police implement a trial ANPR scheme, to target criminals entering the area by identifying vehicles of interest.

Cllr Murphy added: “My concern is that the judicial system, when it does have someone before them, the sentences are so lenient that there’s no deterrent whatsoever.

“We can have the best system in the world, but if our prisons are full, where is the deterrent?”

Cllr Steve Hall also queried if police could be more proactive, rather than reactive, towards criminal activity captured by CCTV.

“The biggest problem we have here, not just in Sudbury but elsewhere, is actually catching people in the act, and having the ability to get that information across to the police, so they can select that location where the crime is happening and get a response there,” he said.

“It’s all very well capturing the event, and police can go back to it, but that’s after the fact. It’s actually about catching people in the act.”

Mr Watson responded that he wanted to see, with the data for this year, a greater correlation between the CCTV footage, the police response to it and a conviction.