The Central Scotland Group visited Scotrail's CCTV Centre at Dunfermline on Tuesday 19 September 2000. The CCTV Centre currently provides coverage at a total of 17 stations in the East of Scotland, with almost 300 cameras providing 24 hour a day surveillance.
The Group were able to see the system in operation, monitoring Bathgate, Cardenden, Cowdenbeath, Dalgety Bay, Dunfermline, Falkirk High, Haymarket, Inverkeithing, Kirkcaldy, Linlithgow, Livingston North, Livingston South, Musselburgh, Polmont, South Gyle, Uphall and Wallyford stations. Robert Malcolm, the CCTV operator on duty explained how the system works.
The CCTV system records images from each camera onto both a hard disk and videotape. The use of a hard disk provides instant playback. Cameras cover the station environs, not just the platforms, and include car parks, underpasses, waiting rooms etc. Each camera provides constant coverage and can operate at night. To assist night time operation, all stations have had their lighting upgraded and are now more brightly lit with 40 lux lighting.
"Help" points at all stations enable passengers to talk directly to the operators at the CCTV Centre and during the visit several passengers made enquiries about train services. When the "Help" button is pressed, a camera automatically zooms in on the "Help" point so that the CCTV Operator can see the person seeking assistance. In most cases the passenger is seeking train time information and the CCTV Operators have access to "Real Time" train information. In addition, the CCTV Operators can also provide announcements via the public address system at each station.
Each station has numerous cameras, for example, Haymarket Station has 32, all recording 24 hours a day and covering all parts of the station. The CCTV Operators have a direct link to British Transport Police and the pictures recorded are of a high enough quality to enable their use in courts. The system has already had a number of notable successes including the arrest of a gang of Edinburgh shoplifters at Falkirk High when they were transferring stolen items for reset elsewhere; a significant reduction in car crime and antisocial behaviour has been all but eliminated in stations. Vandalism has also been reduced considerably, for example, at Cowdenbeath Station, some £500 worth of vandalism occurred each week, but this has now been reduced to almost nothing, as vandals are now "caught in the act". The CCTV centre has the capacity for a further 47 stations to be added to the system and plans are in hand to extend the system.
The Central Scotland Group would like to record its appreciation for this interesting visit to Scotrail and in particular to our guide to the CCTV Centre, Robert Malcolm, for his most interesting and detailed explanation of the system and to John Yellowlees of Scotrail for arranging the visit.
Report by John Fender.
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