Pressure has mounted on Bexley council to reinstate “live monitoring” of CCTV as a petition was backed by more than 700 people in 24 hours.

A campaign to get the council to reinvest in monitoring more than 200 CCTV cameras comes following a controversial decision in 2016 to no longer watch cameras live.

Footage is available to police when needed, and is otherwise maintained by the council, but not monitored.

Chris Brown, part of the Save Wilde Road movement to protect Erith green spaces, and who started the petition, said: “Every day in Bexley you hear of another story how crime is affecting residents, whether it’s anti-social behaviour, sexual assaults, burglaries, or thefts.

“Residents are feeling unsafe and those affected feel let down.

“With police funding cut from central government and police forces being merged we all know active policing and response times will suffer.

“Knowing someone that worked for Bexley Council’s live CCTV monitoring team, I know first hand of the type of work they did.

“Not only did this excellent team help prevent crime, they also worked to help find missing vulnerable people and saved lives.

“While Bexley Council have no control of the police budget, they do have control of their own budget. I’m fed up of the politics in Bexley affecting safety because they cannot agree.”

Mr Brown added that recent assaults in Bexleyheath could have been dealt with if cameras were actively monitored.

The petition will be delivered to the new council after the election.

Councillor Teresa O’Neill OBE, the leader of the council, said in response to the petition: “Firstly, the heart of the petition – helping the Police – was precisely the reason why we came to this arrangement with them to allow their resources to be allocated as effectively as possible.

“It’s probably worth using an example here and, during the issues in Northumberland Heath, it not only allowed them to track the disturbance & deploy their manpower appropriately but, in addition, they could also use the recordings the following day with other partners to solve the issues.”

“We put our residents first in the long term interests of the borough and, when other boroughs switched off their CCTV systems, we worked with the police to ensure we maintained ours to keep our residents safe.”

The Labour Group in Bexley proposed a reinvestment in the system during a debate on the council’s budget but were out-voted, and have since pledged to reinstate it if elected.

Labour leader Daniel Francis said: “While our overstretched police are able to monitor the cameras, they have told us they do not have the resources to carry this out on a live basis.

“The council pays £585,000 a year to maintain the cameras and the maintenance costs of a building fitted out to monitor CCTV, but the building sits empty.

“Bexley residents are rightly calling for the cameras to be watched on a live basis, in order to reduce crime, and sadly Tory councillors remain in denial on this important issue.”

Cllr O’Neill said Labour’s proposal to take funds from reserves to monitor the system for a year was “blatant electioneering.”

The petition can be found here: