‘We saw a man dancing down St Peter’s Avenue in Cleethorpes wearing a shark costume’ – a day in the life of a CCTV operative

CCTV operative working for North East Lincolnshire Council
-Credit: (Image: North East Lincolnshire Council)

It’s a realm hidden away from the eyes of the public but one that makes a world of difference to everyday lives in North East Lincolnshire.

The work of a CCTV operative is little known, from monitoring cameras all over the borough to helping emergency services gather evidence and help those in need. The system operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, meaning there is always someone monitoring it.

At North East Lincolnshire Council, Equans CCTV security operatives spend their 12-hour shift immersed in the state of the art, £2.2m CCTV system that came into operation in late 2022. With around 128 public-facing cameras and a further 350 across council buildings, schools and third-party properties to look at, they can see across the whole of North East Lincolnshire, switching from Grimsby to Immingham in a matter of seconds.


Monitoring these are 11 full-time Equans staff, one of whom is dedicated to Grimsby town centre. This operative spends their time solely looking to detect and prevent crime in some of the busiest streets in the borough and is funded by the Safer Streets initiative.

Two of the number, Martin and Ryan, say it is a job they value and enjoy. Martin has been working in security for over 30 years, with three of those spent in the control room at North East Lincolnshire Council. After hearing how great a place it was to work, he made the decision to come and work in the new control room.

'We see, hear and do all kinds of things in this job' - CCTV operative
'We see, hear and do all kinds of things in this job' - CCTV operative -Credit:North East Lincolnshire Council

He said: “This place is just amazing, coming to Equans and working on behalf of the council was a great move for me for sure. In my opinion, the best part has to be knowing we’ve made a difference at the end of our shift. Every day I feel like I’m having a positive impact on the borough, which is just great.”

Being a CCTV operative is about much more than sitting and watching a screen for 12 hours a day, however. In addition to the CCTV, the control room monitors over 300 fire, panic, intruder and lift alarms, working in conjunction with the Equans wider security team to ensure buildings and property is safe and secure.

The team also takes all calls to the council after 5pm and over the weekends, often liaising with colleagues from other departments to ensure calls are logged and responded to as required. “We see, hear and do all kinds of things in this job,” said Martin.


“It can include tracking a missing person; providing support to police officers and extrapolating footage to be used as evidence in a crime. Sadly, we do see some really violent and upsetting scenes so it can be difficult for some people.

“Thankfully, we have a brilliant team who are here to look after each other should we be struggling with anything.” He added: “Having said that, the job satisfaction we get here is second to none. When we find missing people or prevent a crime from being committed, it feels amazing.”

For Ryan, who has been part of the Equans CCTV team for a year, helping people wherever possible is a great reason to come to work. “We deal with all sorts of incidents and often have to co-ordinate numerous teams to make sure a situation is brought to a safe end.

“For example, during a road traffic accident, we may have to contact emergency services, direct them and then call various other services to come and repair the road. Also, if the police need any evidence from those cameras, we can easily get it for them thanks to our system which archives the footage it records.”

Ryan said: “As you can tell, there isn’t such thing as a typical day in this job. You can be looking for a suspect one minute and responding to a fire alarm going off the next. However, we do also see some strange sights.

“Just the other day we saw a man dancing down St Peter’s Avenue in Cleethorpes wearing a shark costume, believe it or not. I think there’s a lot more to it than people realise, we don’t just spend all day looking at cameras.”

Between 2023 and 2024 alone, council cameras captured over 300 incidents on CCTV to help police support prosecutions. In total during the same period, North East Lincolnshire Council CCTV helped in over 1,500 incidents.