Carter's Park, Holbeach.

Cameras removed amid CCTV row

All CCTV cameras in Holbeach are to be taken down and checked they can’t be hacked while a parish councillor has said she was verbally abused amid the controversy surrounding them.

As previously reported, Holbeach Parish Council is being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Officer over data protection breaches following an internal investigation into the theft of one of its cameras from Carter’s Park in June.

It found that in March the council had been told by a professional its cameras were “not safe and secure”.

Following thefts over the last two years, only one camera remained in the parks and cemeteries which was ordered to be taken down last week.

At Tuesday night’s Extraordinary General Meeting called by the council last week to discuss the issue, it was voted to take the rest of the cameras down, including those overlooking allotments, and to appoint an independent contractor to look at future CCTV provision.

The parish council’s internal investigation was carried out by Coun Sophie Hutchinson who told the meeting: “This is to do with data protection.

“The cameras have not been secure at all since installation.

“Anyone could go up to them and hack them without stealing them.”

She continued: “I don’t feel anybody believes we’ve followed the correct processes for installing CCTV and we’ve not met the 12 Principles (The government’s code of practice for CCTV installation).”

Parish council clerk David Boyce denied that the cameras could be hacked.

The Parish Council’s CCTV champion Paula Silva had previously said the risk to the public was low due to the lack of quality of the cameras.

She told the meeting that she felt like she was being made a ‘scapegoat’ having only been elected into the position four weeks before the camera was stolen. She added the theft of the camera and any issues should have been brought to her sooner.

She said: “I only became the CCTV champion four weeks before lockdown and feel as if I’m being made a scapegoat.

“I was approached by a member of the public who called me a liar, demanding a public apology and saying they would contact my employer.

“He said I’m not from around here and was not welcome in this town. I’ve been having panic attacks.

“We need to get on with it and have a fresh start.

“The cameras are not fit for purpose and we should be reviewing the CCTV across all the sites.”

Coun Paul Sparkes said: “The cameras were installed three years ago and technology moves on.

“We’ve now got an opportunity to bring a positive from what could be very negative for the council.

“We can show we’re taking a robust response to this and it will go a long way to being a positive.”

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