Tim Donovan on BBC London News recently reported on proposals by Newham Council to increase the number of cameras in the area. Al Thomas, responsible for the CCTV in Newham, commented that the CCTV was helping to provide a real record of crime and incidents to the Police.
Newham not only uses fixed CCTV, it also deploys CCTV vans for monitoring ASBO and anti-social behaviour in general. The argument against the expenditure is that out of the 33,000 cameras that Newham operate, 240 crimes were prosecuted on based on CCTV evidence.
Mick Neville, of the Metropolitan Police, commented on the same report. He stated that the questions for how and where the CCTV is located are becoming more important. It is camera positioning and image quality that will make the systems more effective and productive. In addition, Mr. Neville stated that getting access to the images and then in time was also adding to the cost of the CCTV operation. This productive element is not necessarily more convictions as CCTV should act as an assurance to the public as well as a deterrent to would be offenders. Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, was also agreeing with having a further detailed debate on the subject.
It is clear from an industry perspective that CCTV results on what it prevents will hardly be taken into account. While there is evidence that CCTV in one region simply pushes out crime to the peripherals of the CCTV these statistics are not used to calculate the benefits to the community that deploys CCTV. This leads to law enforcement to then rely on the blanket approach which is not appealing to some elements of a community. The problems and issues described above are all solvable with the technology that exists now and the work to get all the stakeholders to the table is the work we are trying to do now.