Shopkeepers on one of Bedminster’s main shopping streets say they have been “duped” by the city council, after paying for security cameras that are broken and can’t see crime that happens in their shops.
Several retailers on East St contributed £200 each in February to set up a network of 10 CCTV cameras in the area, which the council claimed would combat crime and anti-social behaviour.
But several of the cameras are currently broken, having been hit by lightning this spring, and there has been a long delay in fixing them as the council has decided to upgrade them. It cannot say when they will be fixed.
Additionally, many retailers have complained after asking for CCTV footage but being told the cameras do not point at their shops.
One says he feels “duped” and others have demanded the council returns their money, as they believe the cameras are not being used to fight crime, but to raise revenue by detecting traffic offences on the pedestrianised part of East St.
Cash Converters manager Bill Kelly said: “It’s always excuse after excuse. There has been a robbery in one shop, an attempted robbery at the bank, and we have suffered criminal damage.
“On each occasion, we’ve been told there is no CCTV to help us. We feel duped. We have paid for CCTV to make us feel safer and we don’t feel we have got that.”
Rachel Maddox from Peacock’s added: “Someone attacked one of our guards, but there was no CCTV footage to back that up so it never went to court. As far as I know, the CCTV cameras were working.
“It’s not keeping us safe by just monitoring the road. I think it’s disgusting.”
Fiona Lewis from Bakeaway had a similar experience. She said: “I definitely want my money back. We were robbed in December and went to the council for the CCTV but were told the cameras weren’t working.
I would not have paid £200 if I thought the cameras wren’t going to work, and I would not have paid £200 if I had known what I now believe they are going to use them for: to stop cars going down the road.”
Katherine Smith from Stead and Simpson agreed. She said: “The response has been that the cameras weren’t working or the cameras weren’t pointing in the right direction.
“I definitely want my money back because it seems like they’ve asked for money from small businesses for the cameras. But they have used them to make more money from fines and traffic offences.”
Jones The News asked to speak to a council officer or an elected councillor but was told no-one was available. Neither was anyone available from Safer Bristol Partnership, an umbrella organisation of the police and council.
In a statement, Safer Bristol Partnership said: “The system has worked well and has proved effective in improving the safety for people using the East Street shopping centre.
“There have been dozens of successful outcomess [sic] as a result of CCTV surveillance. For example CCTV pictures led to the arrest of a man who attacked a shopkeeper with a samurai sword, a man was arrested for a cash point robbery and various car crimes, assaults and shoplifting offences have resulted in arrests.”
Audio: shopkeepers on East describe the problems they’ve had