Portsmouth Guildhall is an iconic building, standing in the centre of Portsmouth. Designed by Leeds architect William Hill, the building was originally completed in 1890. Damaged during the Second World War, it had to be repaired and was then re-opened by HM The Queen on 8th June 1959. It has a special place in the hearts of the local people and now stands as a significant memorial ‘to the spirit and determination of Portsmouth and her people’.
A new security system was needed to help the in-house security partner, Showsec, provide a robust security service. Safe and effective crowd management was the main priority, followed by the need for effective video evidence of any site incidents.
Portsmouth Guildhall has over 1.2 million visitors a year. The venue has bars, lounges, galleries, a stage, concert hall and café. The multi-use building hosts a range of events, from concerts and shows, to weddings and conferences. It is also home to some small, creative businesses. The building is used throughout the day, evenings and often well into the night.
Such a special building, with a significant role in Portsmouth, demanded respect and protection. Nick Coles, head of technical services for Portsmouth Cultural Trust, the company responsible for the management of the Guildhall, was tasked with finding a security company capable of providing both.
Security installation expert Christie Intruder Alarms (CIA) was chosen to design and install the new CCTV system. CIA selected Grundig CCTV security equipment for the application, because it is highly reliable and provides outstanding CCTV image quality. The equipment was supplied by Security Buying Group, Grundig’s UK agent.
The system comprised 16 IP cameras mounted both inside and outside the building. The cameras types included vandal-resistant, fixed dome cameras and bullet cameras, all with day / night infra-red illumination. A Grundig network video recorder (NVR) provided 24/7 continuous recording and with excellent, Full HD (1080p) image quality.
Portsmouth Guildhall is an impressive, grade 2 listed, historic building. The security system had to provide outstanding CCTV recording quality, including evidence of any site incidents. It also had to meet very stringent visual and installation requirements, including being discrete and sympathetic to the building as a whole. The ornate, external stone work could not be damaged or drilled, which made fixi
ng the external cameras a challenge. CIA is based in Portsmouth and understood the importance of the building’s heritage. It offered an ingenious, bespoke, window mount solution, allowing the bullet cameras to be fitted to extended brackets on adapted window panes. These were used on the outside of the building and protect the building exterior, its various entrance doors and the public areas immediately around the building.
The Grundig system uses power over Ethernet (PoE), which keeps the cabling to each camera down to one cable, simplifying installation and maintaining the visual appearance of the building.
Showsec uses the system to ensure the safety of visitors to Portsmouth Guildhall. It records continuously, so no incident is missed, providing comprehensive and clear evidence from both inside and outside the building. Nick Coles commented, “Indoor incidents range from members of the public meandering into ‘no access’ areas, to arguments and theft. The camera images can be used to inform building management processes, like improved signage in the case of accidental trespass. Outside incidents tend to be more serious and relate to public disorder offences and theft. The images are of such high quality they are also used for evidential and prosecution purposes, following a criminal incident. In the last 6 months alone, the police have used footage recorded by the Guildhall system on four separate occasions, to investigate incidents in the public areas outside the building because the image quality is so good.
“At peak times, such as on the days of concerts and gigs, the system is used live to ensure the safe movement of a large number of people round the venue. It is utilised to direct staff to busy areas, provide a quick response to any problems and to check all the areas of the venue are being run efficiently and effectively. The outcome is happy customers, who are treated well and kept safe.
“We are very happy with the new Grundig system and the service we received from Christie Intruder Alarms. The system was professionally installed in early summer of this year and since then we have experienced a significant improvement in crowd management and venue efficiency; a reduction in incidents and a higher prosecution rate for crime. The system is economical to run, despite its continuous operation, and uses the camera’s integrated IR lighting at night, powered over Ethernet cables. This keeps our energy bills to a minimum, despite offering around the clock surveillance.”
The new Grundig system, chosen and installed by CIA, is protecting Portsmouth’s Guildhall in an effective and inconspicuous manner, sensitive to the requirements of such an historic building. It allows the venue to be safely enjoyed by all.