MAJOR work to replace the city centre’s ageing CCTV cameras has finally started after years of delays.

A total of 93 new high definition digital cameras connected by high-speed fibre optic cables will be installed around Worcester city centre taking around four months to complete at a cost of £600,000.

Councillor James Stanley, chairman of the council's communities committee, said: “These improvements to our city’s CCTV network will help our communities feel safer and will bring many advantages.

"It means improved security at our growing programme of city events, an increased ability to detect crime and it will also be a great aid in other circumstances, such as trying to find missing persons.

"I am very proud that the city council is able to make this important investment."

The much-needed improvements – which will provide much clearer images and the ability for some cameras to view 360 degrees – have been funded by the city council with a £75,000 contribution from West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I am committed to improving and upgrading CCTV cameras and systems across West Mercia, including Worcester City, and have invested £1m over my term in office because I recognise that they are an incredibly valuable resource.

“CCTV can be a great help not just to the police, but councils and other community organisations for crime prevention and detection. Their presence can also make communities feel safer.”

The council had an original deadline of March 2018 for the work to be completed before it was pushed back to 2019 and then pushed back again to March.

The council said the delays were caused by increasing the scope of the improvements to ensure all the council-owned cameras were replaced.

Changes to the number of cameras due to be updated as well as long and delayed discussions between West Mercia Police, Wychavon District Council and the University of Worcester over future arrangements and funding meant the plan experienced several delays throughout 2018 and 2019.

The University of Worcester said it would not be putting forward any money to upgrade the cameras but would continue to work closely with the council around public and student safety. The university would still have to pay some money for repairs and maintenance as part of its developer contributions – otherwise known as section 106 money – for its Art House building in Castle Street.

The new system is being installed by security specialists Tellemachus and will include three mobile cameras that can be moved to different locations as required – for example, in response to anti-social behaviour.

The latest software will provide the ability to search for specific individuals when a detailed description is available, as well as improved monitoring of live events with remote controlled camera movements.

Chief Inspector Gareth Morgan, from the Worcester local policing team, said: “We hugely welcome this investment and upgrade; CCTV can be a hugely powerful tool to help us prevent and detect crime and we don’t underestimate the reassurance it can give people living and working in the city.

"We also hope this also demonstrates that the police service and the council do, and will continue to, work closely together to do all we can to keep our communities safe.”