Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry speaks with a Safer Streets warden in Ashfield
A world first in camera technology pioneered in Nottinghamshire is now being replicated across the country.
The Refuge Point camera system, which combines CCTV with the ability to instantly speak to the control room in an emergency, was invented as part of a project led by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to make the streets of Nottinghamshire safer.
The technology was developed from scratch and installed in Sutton-in-Ashfield earlier this year following funding through the Home Office’s Safer Streets programme.
Wireless CCTV, the company that was commissioned to create the devices, has now been inundated with orders and requests from across the country – from Durham to Devon.
“The idea was a trail-blazer and it came from talking to women in focus groups about what we could do to make women and girls feel safe in public spaces,” said Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry.
“They told us that, when they went out, they would try to walk through public places where they knew shops would be open so they could get help in an emergency, or if they felt they were being followed.
“But when shops were closed, this meant they felt less safe as there were fewer places to get help.
“That’s what sparked the idea of having a highly-visible CCTV camera system that gave people an instant and 24-hour direct line to the control room.
“But at the time there was nothing on the market that combined CCTV and communications technology in this way – so we got in touch with Wireless CCTV to see if they could create it. They rose to the challenge and the success we have had here in Nottinghamshire has led to other areas across the country following in our footsteps.”
Ashfield District Council worked closely with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on the Safer Streets programme which saw three Refuge Points installed in Sutton-in-Ashfield earlier this year.
The council is now planning to install three more in Kirkby-in-Ashfield following the OPCC’s success in bringing a further £3 million of Safer Streets funding to Nottinghamshire, which will be spent on public safety projects across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
It also has plans to build three in Hucknall, which Commissioner Henry is part-funding through a different funding stream.
Antonio Taylor, Head of Community Safety at Ashfield District Council, said: “As a Council and Community Safety partnership we have spearheaded a number of successful projects through the Safer Streets initiative to improve feelings of public safety across the district.
“We have received local and national interest in relation to the Safe Point cameras, with security specialists in Queensland, Australia, recently contacting us about the work that is being delivered in Ashfield. I am exceptionally proud of my team who have and continue to deliver excellent results for our communities.”
Ross Johnstone, Head of Public Sector, Wireless CCTV Ltd, said Refuge Points had been installed in Durham and Northampton following their introduction in Nottinghamshire.
They will also soon be introduced in Cardiff and in the Devon and Cornwall area among others, while many more police forces and local authorities have been lining up to enquire about bringing them to their areas.
He said: "Wireless CCTV is incredibly proud to have directly collaborated with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire to create a wholly unique CCTV and live comms solution to make streets safer for the most vulnerable.
"As a UK-based manufacturer, we were able to build a bespoke solution that addressed one of the most pressing needs for police forces across the UK.
“We have seen significant interest in the solution from other forces and these are currently being rolled out across the UK."
As well as the Refuge Points, Ashfield District Council previously worked with the OPCC to use Safer Streets funding to introduce an innovative Safe Space scheme at over 40 retailers and business across Sutton-in-Ashfield.
This gave training to staff in how to support women and girls who might come to them for help, and each business was given state-of-the-art CCTV outside their shops for added protection. It means people can feel confident that there is a network of support for them in the town as well as extremely high levels of top-quality camera security.
This scheme will also be expanded into Kirkby-in-Ashfield with the latest round of Safer Streets funding.
Other being implemented in Kirkby-in-Ashfield in the latest round of Safer Streets funding include automatic number plate recognition cameras at key locations to help police keep track of criminals using the road network, as well as street lighting and environmental improvements to make people feel safer at night.
The money will also fund youth work and diversionary activities to prevent crime and antisocial behaviour.
Inspector Jon Hewitt, District Commander for Ashfield, said: “It’s great to hear that the refuge point camera system that was implemented in my area thanks to the funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner is being rolled out nationally and even getting international interest.
“These CCTV cameras give people that extra added bit of security that if they’re out walking alone and need help or to contact us quickly, they can just press a button and will be straight through to our control room.
“The Safer Streets funding is really helping implement safety initiatives and giving us even more ways to protect the people of Ashfield and most importantly keep them safe.”
The Safer Streets funding for Ashfield was part of a joint bid with Mansfield District Council for £750,000 for projects across both districts.
This was one of four successful £750,000 applications across Nottinghamshire in July this year, meaning a total of £3 million of Safer Streets funding was secured by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire – the highest sum given to any county area nationally.
For more information about Safer Streets, visit Safer Streets (pcc.police.uk)
Posted on Monday 17th October 2022