ANPR cameras in Royston Ring of Steel will be switched on if and when required

Chief inspector Julie Wheatley

Chief inspector Julie Wheatley - Credit: Archant

After public pressure to bring back the Royston Ring of Steel, the senior police officer leading the team covering Royston has explained how the existing surveillance system is being used to combat crime – and what the future might hold.

Chief Insp Julie Wheatley said that at the moment two cameras sit in Old North Road and London Road, ready to be switched on if and when required.

There are further masts for cameras ready in Melbourn Road, New Market Road, Barkway Road and Baldock Road if, for example, there is a crime spike in that location, or if police are trying to catch a suspect in a particular area.

Chief Insp Wheatley said turning all seven cameras back on at all times – a move deemed unlawful by the relevant authority in 2013 – would not be justified.

She said: “I get what people are concerned about. If I can do anything to reduce crime and catch the bad guys I’m all for it.”

The police reviews the need for the individual cameras at regular meetings, analysing the trends of crime in different areas.

She added: “We have to have a proportionate response. The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled that seven cameras was disproportionate.

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“They said if you have justification you can switch on any one of those cameras. That’s my responsibility – it has to be done in a targeted way.”

If there is no justification and the cameras are left on at all times, the chief constable could find himself facing a £500,000 fine.

An extra camera will be put up on the A10 between Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire to catch travelling criminals, based on intelligence that shows people who commit crimes often cross the county borders.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald described the news as “most welcome.”

There has been a reduction in crime around the Royston area since last year.

A total of four house burglaries have occurred since April of this year, and 11 burglaries from other premises.

North Hertfordshire’s top cop said a major concern for the police is rural areas, as they are isolated.

She urged communities living in villages around Royston to contact police whenever they spot any suspicious behaviour.