A WHISTLEBLOWER who raised serious concerns to The Press about the operation of York’s CCTV control room may speak directly to councillors.

City of York Council’s community safety committee looks set to carry out a full scrutiny of the CCTV system, along with civil liberty issues which it raises.

The move comes some months after The Press reported how Wayne Garbutt, a former control room operator, was claiming that while the city’s scores of cameras were meant to be monitored round the clock, they regularly went unmanned for hours.

He also alleged that a lax approach meant staff sometimes read newspapers or watched DVDs of programmes such as On The Buses when they were supposed to be monitoring the bank of video screens.

Council officers said then that some of his claims had already been investigated, but any new issues raised would be probed as a matter of urgency.

Labour group leader James Alexander said today he believed the system was not being used to its full potential, and he planned to spend a night shift in the control room to find out how it worked.

“The network can be better and I want councillors to find out how,” he said.

Liberal Democrat councillor Christian Vassie said he had had a long conversation with Mr Garbutt and he had made a series of serious allegations about the way the CCTV control room had been run.

“I believe the Scrutiny Committee could provide a constructive forum for the whistleblower to set out his concerns,” he said.

The council needed to ensure its whistleblowing policy was rigorous and fair to all parties, to protect individuals and ensure the city got the best services and best value for money.

Coun Vassie said many broader issues also needed to be looked at, including the question of what CCTV was for and its effectiveness and value for money.

“There are more CCTV cameras snooping on us in the UK, per head of population, than anywhere else in the world,” he said.

“So far, to my knowledge, no figures have been produced to show how many crimes have been prevented or solved in York as a direct result of the use of CCTV and yet we spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on them.”