Clifftop CCTV camera installed to warn of suicide attempts

The cliffs at Marsden.
The cliffs at Marsden.
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A CCTV camera is giving emergency services early warning of potential cliff tragedies in South Tyneside.

The equipment been installed as part of a  drive by South Tyneside Council  to prevent suicide attempts along the South Shields coast.

The camera scheme was discussed at South Tyneside Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee today as part of a performance review on crime and disorder.

All councils are required to scrutinise the operation of their community safety partnerships.

Acting lead officer for community safety at South Tyneside Council, Andy Bailey, said the camera uses thermal imaging to provide a “full view” at night and covers the coastline.

He said that, while the cliffs attract many tourists,  there is a  “tragic situation in the borough” where some visitors “have thoughts of committing suicide.”

Mr Bailey, who is also South Tyneside Council’s CCTV and community warden coordinator, said the camera is “proactively monitored” and has a direct radio link to aid in early intervention by emergency services.

He added that mobile phone app Pokemon Go had been  a “big issue” with GPS-signed ‘pokestops’ attracting some app users close to the cliff edge.

Coun Joe Amar welcomed the new camera while Coun Moira Smith said suicides were a “big problem” in the area, with people visiting the cliffs from other parts of the region.

She added: ” South Tyneside Council has some very eagle eyed staff who do a fantastic job”.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “As part of the council’s whole-community approach to suicide prevention we are committed to working with partners, communities, groups, mental health services and individuals to tackle this issue.

“CCTV cameras are deployed at various locations across the borough to enhance public safety.

“Cameras are a useful tool in providing an early alert to the emergency services to allow them to provide timely intervention to people in crisis.”

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service