Exeter to get more CCTV staff after Lorraine Cox's murder

Lorraine Cox, 32, was murdered in her hometown of Exeter

Extra staff will be employed at Exeter’s CCTV control centre, following a plea by the father of a woman who was murdered on a night out.

Tony Cox’s daughter Lorraine, aged 32, was killed by 24-year-old Azam Mangori in his flat above a kebab shop in the city in September 2020.

He is serving life in prison, with a minimum term of 20 years.

Appearing at a full meeting of Exeter City Council in February, an emotional Mr Cox asked for funding to be found for more staff at the control centre after being told there weren’t always two people on duty.

He was told five more staff – at a cost of £155,000 – would be needed to ensure there were always two on shift, accounting for holiday, unforeseen absence, and sickness.

Lorraine Cox with her father Tony

“I ask you to seriously, everybody, think what £155,000 would do for the residents and the confidence in the city, who’ve had no support, can give their confidence back, and actually start to lead a safer city campaign with genuine intent,” replied Mr Cox, who said he would “not stop fighting for justice”.

The city council will now use an extra £87,000 in government funding to pay for three more staff to join the existing team, which is currently made up of nine (full-time equivalent) employees, to help “dramatically reduce any instances of staff having to lone work in emergency.”

It comes on top of a £550,000 upgrade and extension to the existing CCTV network, funded by a grant from the Home Office, which is set to be completed by September.

A report to the council’s executive this week admitted the current level of staffing “does not necessarily offer the appropriate level of service resilience", particularly in instances of short-notice sickness ahead of a night shift.

It added: “Additional staff resource at night and over weekends would dramatically reduce any instances of staff having to lone work in emergency situations."

Leader Phil Bialyk said the policy had received cross-party support, meaning it did not have to wait for approval until after the pre-election ‘purdah’ period which restricts new announcements.

“I hope this demonstrates that, as an authority, we will listen, and we have listened and we’ve made changes. I think that’s important to residents of the city,” he added.

An extra £87,000 in government funding will pay for three more CCTV staff Credit: LDRS

In welcoming the decision, Councillor Matthew Vizard (Labour, Newtown & St Leonards) said: “Tony spoke very powerfully and movingly, and it was not easy to hear. It wasn’t meant to be.”

He and many other councillors joined Mr Cox and his son Mark on a 13-mile walk around Exeter last month in memory of Lorraine, with Cllr Vizard revealing it has since raised over £6,000 for causes including Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services.

Councillor Kevin Mitchell (Lib Dem and Progressive Group co-leader) added: “I’m extremely pleased that we’ve been able to find the money to do this and I’m very supportive of it.”

Councillor Emma Morse (Labour, Mincinglake & Whipton) said: “I just wanted to say I’m really pleased that we’re doing this, but I don’t think we’ve fixed the problem; there’s something much bigger and deeper that needs to be addressed.

“But in the meantime, at least I feel happy that we’re doing things to keep people safe until such time as we have educated those men who feel that violence against women is appropriate.”

Credit: Ollie Heptinstall, Local Democracy Reporting Service