The CCTV surveillance and monitoring team at Wandsworth Borough Council has been highly commended in a national competition for “helping to solve serious crime”.
The council’s community safety team, which operators over 1200 cameras in the borough, received the commendation in the 2011 Government Business Awards which recognises local and central government organisations that have “shown innovation and excellence when delivering public services”.
The cameras have been used by the police in hundreds of investigations ranging from murders to bank robberies, said Jason Owen, control room manager in a phone interview with SecurityNewsDesk.com.
Footage is regularly used to help secure convictions in court and also to gain intelligence and information about criminal activity in the borough.
Last year the police used footage as evidence in 841 cases – a 42 per cent increase on the previous year.
The cameras were also used to support 30 police operations as they took place, ensuring that officers in charge of these operations had a complete picture of events as they unfolded on the ground and were able to allocate their resources in the most effective way.
Last year footage from the cameras proved instrumental in securing convictions in two high profile investigations.
Film from the cameras helped identify two youths who attacked and killed a 67-year-old grandfather outside the Church Lane mosque in Tooting. Footage was also vital in helping to convict two men who carried out a shotgun attack in Wye Street, Battersea and led to them both being jailed for 14 years.
“It’s a busy borough with links straight out of London into Surrey so it’s quite busy,” Mr. Owen said. “We recently dealt with two murders that weren’t even in our borough because we have so many cameras. And we do a lot of work with SO20 and Flying Squad.”
Remarkably, Mr Owen manages with a team of just four operators who monitor the borough’s cameras from 8am to midnight on Monday to Thursdays, till 3am on Friday and Saturdays and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.
When the team isn’t on duty, police officers from Integrated Borough Operations and MetCall can take control of the cameras.
The borough also benefits from the presence of a full-time police liaison officer.
Vital crime solver
Chris Pinder from the National Security Inspectorate which sponsored the award, said: “The Government Business Awards recognise those local authorities and government departments who actively demonstrate the importance of security in safeguarding their local communities.”
The town hall’s spokesman on CCTV Cllr Ravi Govindia said: “The borough’s camera network plays a vital role in helping the police tackle crime in Wandsworth.
“The footage is often instrumental in identifying suspects and then securing convictions against them in court.
“Not only have they been used to help solve crimes that have already been committed, they often help the police nip problems in the bud – before they develop into something more serious.
“However the cameras are often used to assist in many other types of emergency. These have ranged from serious road accidents to people threatening to jump off bridges. Recently they helped track down two young children who had run away from home late one night and they also spotted a man who had fallen in the Thames near Battersea Bridge.
“In many of these incidents, the swift response of the emergency services has been achieved as a result of the alertness of our camera operators.”
Last year the monitoring team received a Borough Commander’s Award for their work in crime detection and monitoring.
The system has undergone significant modifications recently. Last year they upgraded to a Tecton digital recording system with a Meyertech control system. This year they completed a control room upgrade masterminded by Thinking Space.