THE new Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset has vowed to consider CCTV in Sherborne.
Speaking to the Western Gazette at a meeting of the Dorset Police and Crime Panel in Dorchester, Martyn Underhill, who took on the role in November, said he would consider backing a community-based surveillance system in the town.
He said: “Bringing CCTV to an area needs to be a multi-agency approach. If all those factors come together I am very receptive to the idea.
“There are several factors involved with the installation of CCTV. First, the images need to be monitored, and that needs to be a community effort. For example, in Swanage, there is a team of 12 volunteers who monitor surveillance.
“It would need to be a community-driven approach. I would need the help of the community to help me to police it.
“I do see it as part of my role as police and crime commissioner and I do have budget for it. However, I do see that councils have their role also.
“Now I am aware of the debate, I will look into the possibilities of installing surveillance in Sherborne.”
Last year Cheap Street business owners reignited calls for surveillance of the town centre after a string of incidents.
In December, Tony Bates, co-owner of jewellers Hudson & Hall, called on businesses to lobby for CCTV funding. Thousands of pounds’ worth of designer jewellery were stolen from his shop just before Christmas.
Jane Wood, owner of Oliver’s Coffee House, also called for surveillance when her property was vandalised.
This week, she said she would be happy to meet with Mr Underhill to discuss the idea and would like to get involved in a CCTV focus group.
She said: “I think we definitely need CCTV. In my mind, if you have nothing to hide then it shouldn’t bother you being recorded. If it stops schoolchildren hanging around the high street and prevents crime then so much the better.”
On Thursday, Mr Underhill presented his five-year Police and Crime Plan to the panel.
Part of the plan pledged to rehabilitate reoffending criminals.
He said: “There is always a reason for acquisitive crime. I am aware of an individual in Sherborne who commits crime because of a drug addiction.
“We’ve identified 80 people across Dorset who are reoffending and we think need managing better. These are not minor crimes, the impact on the community is huge and fear of crime goes up.
“It’s a massive priority for me. I am only eight weeks in post but I intend to set up a system to offer offenders support to change their ways. If they don’t, we will enforce and take that person out of the community.”
Mr Underhill advocated a top-down approach to tackling drug crime in rural Dorset.
He said: “Drug crime is a complex, tangled web which is not just about the drug user but the dealer as well. We are determined to take the supply out of Dorset.”