Over a fifth of CCTV cameras on the University of York campus are currently not operational, a Nouse investigation has found. Information acquired through the Freedom of Information Act 2000 found 111 out of the 543 cameras on campus are currently not functional because of incompatibility between these cameras and an updated University security system.
Despite the number of non-operational cameras, the University was keen to note that the reason these cameras have remained in place is as a deterrent from criminal activity on campus.
This will be exacerbated by the recent spate of bike thefts that have occurred on campus as reported by Nouse in the 2 October edition.
A second-year English student told us: “Ever since my bike was stolen last term, I have felt very unsafe leaving it on campus. This revelation has done nothing to assuage my fears and I hope the University will take action to make the campus more secure.”
"Ever since my bike was stolen last term, I have felt very unsafe leaving it on campus. This revelation has done nothing to assuage my fears."
This revelation is likely to stoke concerns among students over whether York can remain one of the safest places to study in the UK, a fact that is a draw to many who apply to study at the University. This relative safety was most recently evidenced by York placing in tied 8th place for safety in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey.
In addition to monitoring CCTV cameras on campus, Security Services carry out foot and mobile patrols to protect the safety of student and staff. In January 2015 the University also rolled out the SafeZone free app which allows students and staff to make contact with security services. It also allows security staff or first aiders to pinpoint the location of an individual who is feeling unsafe or reporting an incident.
Regardless of the other safety measures in place and the designation of York as a "safe place to study", the number of CCTV cameras out of operation on campus is a concern to many. While statistically, York students are rarely victims of crime, should this happen then security cameras are vital in finding those responsible and in facilitating prosecutions.
Nouse approached the University of York for comment. In response, a University spokesperson said: “The University of York has 543 CCTV cameras operated from our security centre. The large majority of these are operational and can be viewed by security staff. The University of York employs a dedicated CCTV engineer to repair, replace or remove cameras. A small number of cameras are no longer compatible with our security systems, but have been left in place as a deterrent in an attempt to reduce criminal activity.”
Whilst not addressing the issue of the cameras directly, Union President James Durcan commented to Nouse: “Naturally, it is important that the safety of students is a key priority for the University. All students should feel safe on our campus, so anything that may have an impact on this should be looked at and dealt with appropriately".