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News

Guildford combats environmental problems with PatrolVu

TSS (Traffic Safety Systems) : 05 October, 2009  (Application Story)
As well as tackling anti-social behaviour, Guildford police are also using mobile CCTV equipped vehicles for improving the local environment through detection of dumping and fly tipping
Guildford combats environmental problems with PatrolVu
TSS (Traffic Safety Systems) - part of AD Group - has equipped three vehicles operated by Guildford Borough Council in Surrey, England, with its advanced PatrolVu mobile digital CCTV recording technology to tackle a wide range of enforcement issues in the area from lorries discharging their loads on the public highway - with associated clean-up costs - to dog fouling and anti-social behaviour.

Looking at the three vehicles in more detail, Guildford is now deploying two Connect vans and one larger Transit van. The first Connect van features high visibility livery and is a Safer Guildford 'Partnership' vehicle operated on behalf of Surrey Police and Guildford Borough Council. Usually crewed by Council staff, its primary role is environmental enforcement. In terms of CCTV, TSS has fitted out this brand new vehicle with PatrolVu digital CCTV recording; a roof mounted 360 degree, Pan, Tilt and Zoom camera; a forward facing camera and a camera which can look down the right hand side of the vehicle - this is ideal for capturing images of someone who may be disposing of litter inappropriately.

The second of the Connect vans is used, specifically, by the Council's Neighbourhood & Housing Management service unit to deal with issues regarding estate and tenancy management and to gather supporting evidence. In addition, to more overt CCTV technology, this vehicle incorporates a covert rearward facing pinhole camera.

Guildford's final vehicle, featuring TSS mobile CCTV, is a Dog Warden's Transit van, which is focused primarily on dealing with stray, dangerous dogs and dog fouling. This older van has now been completely updated with the PatrolVu digital CCTV solution, forward facing cameras, hand controller and dashboard monitor.

Commented Gary Kirk, Environmental Enforcement Officer, Guildford Borough Council, who oversees the operation of two of the three vehicles: "In the Environmental Enforcement Department we are focused on what I would term 'enviro crime' and it is very much a constant battle using education, deterrent measures - such as CCTV - and enforcement action to keep our streets, roads, parks and countryside free of illegally dumped waste and litter.

At Guildford we have been using TSS technology in various guises for the past four to five years, with initial interest stemming from a visit to Southampton who were already using mobile CCTV from an environmental perspective. We were able to appreciate the operational benefits at first hand and this led to our first Partnership vehicle, a Bedford Midi, with an agreement that the 'pilot' CCTV system - a predecessor of the much more capable PatrolVu - paid for by the Safer Guildford Partnership (local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership).

'The funding for SGP comes from a variety of sources, the main one being the Government Office for the South-East. On the whole the vehicle is crewed by Guildford Borough Council staff. Today this capability has been much enhanced with our three vans all equipped with the latest digital CCTV technology."

When it comes to environmental enforcement, one area where Guildford's high visibility Partnership vehicle has proved to be especially successful is in dealing with commercial vehicles carelessly discharging their loads. Explained Gary Kirk: "In Guildford we have the extremely busy A3 trunk road running through the town, unfortunately, as a consequence we see a considerable number of bulk carriers whose canvas sheeting has not been tied-down correctly. This leads to some of the load ending-up on the carriageway - with all of the negative ramifications this brings for road safety and the environment.

"To address this we frequently park-up the Partnership vehicle in an adjacent lay-by and sit and watch for offenders to drive through the area. The 30 second pre-alarm facility on the PatrolVu is certainly invaluable, meaning that we only have to store evidence of real incidents on the hard drive as, when we spot something, we know that the lead-up will automatically be available for review.

'In terms of identifying the culprits we typically seek to capture the vehicle's license plate and use the Pan, Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) camera on the van's roof for driver recognition. With the information gathered we can then readily trace the haulage company concerned and present them with the evidence of their driver's transgressions.

"To put this problem into perspective, the last vehicle 'litter' clean-up on the A3 trunk road cost Guildford Borough Council £30,000 for a couple of evenings of work and there was also the inconvenience of the associated lane closures. So it makes sense for us to tackle this issue head-on and so, ultimately, change behaviour.

'On a positive note we have had encouraging feedback from meetings with hauliers in the Guildford area. One local haulier, who was previously a frequent offender upon seeing our evidence has now changed their practices for the better. The result is less waste to be cleared up, a reduced impact on the environment, and the haulier in question is not losing valuable cargo in transit.'


Other incidents where the Partnership vehicle has been called into action include the Foot and Mouth outbreak two years ago, where the team was tasked with helping to secure an exclusion zone by providing a protection patrol.

The high visibility vehicle can also be deployed at the request of Surrey Police to provide support at key hotspots when specific events are underway in Guilford, especially to focus on areas which are not covered by the town centre CCTV. In addition, the vehicle is available for specific police operations such as Safer Neighbourhood Patrols (SNAP for short) where it can be brought into an area and parked-up to deal with anti-social behaviour and underage drinking. When the TSS-equipped Partnership vehicle is operating in a policing role, in addition to the Council's team of operators, a police officer will be positioned in the vehicle's passenger seat where there is 'dual' control capability for the CCTV.

Commented Gary: "Although our main tasking is environmental enforcement we can - and do - provide a powerful resource for the police should the need arise. A recent example is when we were deployed to a nearby village where anti-social behaviour was becoming an issue behind a row of shops. The presence of the high visibility CCTV van helped to defuse the situation and reassure the community, with an immediate drop in anti-social behaviour. In fact we were able to use the CCTV technology to engage with many of the teenagers in the village, who were encouraged to sit in the vehicle and look at the CCTV cameras in action, and certainly we felt that this helped to break down some of the barriers."

Education continues to be seen by Guildford as a key element of the work of the Environmental Enforcement Department. Gary and the rest of his team frequently park-up their Partnership vehicle on Guildford's High Street, and at local schools, to explain what they are doing in terms of clamping down on environmental issues such as littering. The very presence of the vehicle acts as a talking point and tends to make potential offenders think again.

Said Jeremy Coleman, Sales Manager at TSS: 'Ultimately, the experience of Guildford Borough Council with its TSS-equipped mobile CCTV vehicles underlines the inherent flexibility of technology which can be deployed rapidly to deal with a wide range of issues, both as a deterrent and, crucially, to gather valuable evidence against offenders so effective enforcement action can be taken.'
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