CCTV Means Safer Parking and Higher Profits in UK
When Town Centre Securities decided to build a new multi-story garage in Manchester, England, the parent company of Town Centre Car Parks resolved to follow a program initiated to improve the security of vehicles within the parking environment. As a result, not only the garage but the entire surrounding area has benefited.
The new Manchester parking facility – the Tariff Street garage in the Piccadilly Basin – has 240 spaces and is open 24/7. Situated in the center city, it forms the hub of the investment and development company’s parking facilities. Three other surface sites provide parking for an additional 600 vehicles.
All CCTV for the sites is linked to maximize the range and effectiveness of coverage.
Russell Hancock, Operations Manager of Town Centre Car Parks, has been in the parking business for more than 25 years. He has seen the progression from providing the basic requirement – a parking space – to the high-tech systems demanded of today’s market.
“Security started becoming an issue about 12 years ago,” Hancock says. “CCTV was being used in shops, and we needed to meet customer expectations and ensure the safety of customers, staff and property alike by following suit.”
Of course, the added benefits of such a system are that it reduces premiums and satisfies insurers that an effective system to minimize crime is in place. “It used to be that installing CCTV in a garage was seen as adding value,” Hancock says, “but now it’s a minimum requirement if you want to be taken seriously.”
After discussions with the Greater Manchester Police, a CCTV system was designed to provide facial recognition of any person entering or exiting the parking facility. In addition, it would record all vehicle movements in and out of the garage. Relationships with the police have continued to develop since this time and the company is now involved with the Piccadilly Partnership, the Crime Reduction Partnership and the Business Watch Scheme, helping to reduce crime in the whole area. “I can’t recommend enough the benefits of being involved with schemes like these,” Hancock says. “We share information, resources and systems to really maximize our effectiveness in stamping out crime.”
Regular meetings are held between the police and Town Centre Car Parks, with the relationship benefiting both parties. The parking facility is ensured prompt police action in case of an incident, and the police have gained another partner in the fight against crime. “The police can come and use the cameras and review the footage at any time,” Hancock says. “This benefits the Piccadilly Basin community as a whole.”
Vista vandal-resistant domes, supplied by distributor Norbain SD Ltd., have been interfaced into the garage management system to automatically display any of the on-site help points activated by a member of the public. The Monitoring Centre in Leeds uses a touch screen-controlled virtual matrix including graphical maps, allowing selection and control of several sites via a high-speed broadband connection. A Vista monitor also has been installed at the garage office, where it is used for general monitoring and as an alarm monitor, which automatically displays the relevant camera image after an alarm activation.
Having two 24-hour monitoring systems in place – one on-site and the other in Leeds – is designed to ensure that no incident is overlooked. “The dual system works brilliantly,” Hancock says, “because if the on-site personnel need to leave the reception area, they and the other garages can still be monitored from the control centre. This means that their safety and that of customers’ property in the garage are always being looked after. Additionally, because different cameras are being observed by both sites, no area in any of the garages is overlooked.
“There’s no doubt the system is working,” Hancock says. “Clearly, advertising the use of continually monitored CCTV is a big deterrent to potential trouble-makers and it stops the parking sites from being easy targets. There have been no incidents in the Tariff Street garage since the installation, and there’s been only one incident in one of the surface lots. Here the police were able to make an arrest with the aid of the CCTV footage.”
Hancock also says that installing the CCTV system has increased business for the facility. He predicts that the system – which cost about $120,000 in all – will pay for itself within 12 months. He asks: “If two operators have garages in the same vicinity, one with CCTV and one without, which would you choose?”
Caroline Akeroyd, the public relations executive with Norbain, can be reached at Caroline.Akeroyd@norbain.co.uk.