GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL Chapter have installed 17 CCTV cameras over the newly created Cathedral Green to detect criminals and prevent anti-social behaviour.
The public open space was created from a car park as part of the cathedral’s Project Pilgrim, designed to improve its links with the city, but concerns have risen over levels of anti-social behaviour.
The planning application for the cameras disclosed that there had been 56 incidents of crime in the precincts in the first six months of 2017. In the design and access statement, the cathedral architect, Antony Feltham-King, said: “The background to this project is that the cathedral authorities are keen to make suitable provisions to help reduce crime in and around the cathedral precincts.”
The cathedral stands in one of the busiest parts of Gloucester, and police have expressed concerns that shoplifters and other criminals use the “blind spot” of the Green as an escape route.
The CCTV supervisor, Alison Wright, told the BBC: “We lose an awful lot in the cathedral grounds. There’s an awful lot of exits and entrances: it will be brilliant we can now follow these people.”
The cathedral’s head of development and communications, Theo Platt, said: “Gloucester is an exceptionally busy cathedral: we have over 400,000 visitors a year. We now have a beautiful new public space right in the heart of the city, and lots of people use it. We wanted to make people feel safe and welcome, and it does act as a deterrent.
“In this day and age, people do things we wouldn’t like, or that are not respectful to the space; therefore, as custodians of the most significant building in the city, it is our duty to make sure we are looking after it for this and future generations.”
The cameras have been installed with the aid of a £20,000 grant from the Home Office’s Vulnerable Faith Institutions Scheme, which was introduced to protect churches, mosques, and temples from attack (News, 7 July 2017).
A Gloucester police spokesman said: “Our CCTV operators will soon have access to cameras in the grounds of Gloucester Cathedral, in the interests of detecting crime. While the footage will not be monitored live, if an incident happens we will be able to review the footage swiftly and take any necessary action.”