By Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter
The father of an Exeter woman who was murdered on a night out has made an impassioned plea for greater protection of people in the city centre.
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 servingmlife in prison, with a minimum term of 20 years.
Appearing at a full meeting of the city council held at Exeter College this week, Mr Cox asked for funding to be found for a fully staffed CCTV control room in the city.
He told councillors that after “acquiring almost half a million to support safer streets, why is funding not found to man [the control room] adequately to keep everyone safe, in turn confirming that lives matter more than money?”
In response, the council’s deputy leader Laura Wright said the funding currently wasn’t in place to guarantee the control centre was manned by at least two members of staff 24 hours a day.
“The safer streets funding was a one-off capital grant from the home office, not ongoing revenue funding, meaning it cannot be used for staffing or salaries,” she said.
“We’ve spent the funding on updating and expanding the CCTV equipment and infrastructure to give better coverage, improve images and recording facilities and to make the system simpler and more efficient.
“This will improve the detection of crime and anti-social behaviour and improve the quality of evidence that we gather to aid the police.
“We always aim for two people in the control centre, which is achieved in the vast majority of the time. Occasionally with unexpected sickness, we’re not always able to achieve that.
“In order to guarantee two members of staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week, accounting for unforeseen sickness and absence, we actually need an additional five members of staff to be employed.”
Cllr Wright said this would cost an extra £155,000 a year, which had yet to be provided, but added “we’ll continue to look for ways to achieve this” including through talks with the police and crime commissioner.
Mr Cox replied by saying problems with the CCTV system in the lead-up to Lorraine’s death amounted to “the worst case of a total failure.”
“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.”
He added: “Most superstores provide a security guard to stop me stealing a tin of beans.
“This night-time economy is vital to this city, the university is vital to this city. If you [don’t] want this to happen again for £155,000 and you could ruin the reputation of the city, I ask you all to work together – party politics aside – and think from the bottom of your heart.
“Would you want to be stood here in front of another parent, or if it was your child, how would you feel in my position? I’m asking you all to look deep into your hearts – find that money, restore confidence in this city.
“I think you’ve all had examples of how it’s been shattered. You hold the key to unlocking this. I will not stop fighting for justice.”
Leader of the council Phil Bialyk told Mr Cox that an email he had been sent would receive a detailed reply from the council.
“Tony, we’ve had a number of meetings with you. We’re trying to do what we can. We understand the issues you’ve raised to us. We’re continuing to meet you. You know you can meet us when you want to – and we will do that.
“Some of the questions you’ve raised, we will continue to meet and discuss with you. It is a serious matter, it has upset us all, and we all want to do as much as we can. That’s what I can promise you going forward,” Cllr Bialyk said.
Mr Cox invited councillors to join him and his brother Mark on Sunday 6 March, when they will be walking 13 miles around Exeter in memory of Lorraine, and to highlight their safety campaign.
They will be raising funds for causes including the Exeter City Community Trust and Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services.