The Metropolitan Police Service’s CFIT unit was celebrating yesterday as its volunteer team of CCTV analysts scooped a prestigious Home Office award.
The Lord Ferrers Team Award 2014 was presented to the Volunteer Visual Images Identification & Detections Office (VIIDO), based at New Scotland Yard. The award, previously known as the Special Constable and Police Support Volunteer Awards, highlights the vital role volunteers play in support of policing, by giving up their free time to make communities safer and enhancing the effectiveness of policing across England and Wales.
The Volunteer VIIDO consists of fourteen vetted and trained members of the public, coordinated by PC Matt Butcher, volunteer VIIDO supervisor. Four of their number were invited to the Houses of Parliament for the presentation by the Home Secretary, Mrs Theresa May. The volunteers were Wendy Young, Nicola Lamb, Jolanta Grela and Clive Lloyd, who was also named a few weeks ago as the Commissioner’s Volunteer of the Year.
In the last two years, the volunteer VIIDO has completed over 1000 CCTV packages – viewing footage and producing images and evidence for investigations. This has saved around three thousand policing hours – releasing more officers to frontline duties.
The volunteers were initially established to assist with routine and volume crime, but they have progressed to more serious matters. This has included producing CCTV for a child abduction and indecent case, where the offender was sentenced at the Old Bailey to eight years imprisonment, and analysing footage from a murder in Victoria, Australia, where the offender pleaded guilty to the crime due to the expertly prepared evidence.
DCI Mick Neville, who leads the unit as part of the Central Forensic Image Team said, “I am immensely proud of the Volunteer VIIDO. Their work has made London – and other parts of the world – a much safer place. Their dedication to serving the community is to be admired.”
Speaking to SecurityNewsDesk today, PC Butcher was delighted that the VIIDO volunteers had been recognised as a team.
The volunteer unit was started in April 2012 as a direct result of the August 2011 riots which had a significant impact on certain parts of London. “The video unit at the borough were tied up with dealing with disorder footage, and day to day crimes were being left,” said PC Butcher. “A role was identified that the volunteers could do, dealing with day to day footage.” Since then, the volunteers have processed around 1000 pieces of footage.
“As we become more experienced, we are dealing with more complex crimes because the borough units are having to concentrate on their crimes, so we are helping some of the more specialised units prepare exhibits for court, such as the Gang Crime Command and the sexual crimes investigation units – we are helping them create exhibits for court,” he said.
Recently the unit dealt with a case in which a girl was sexually assaulted at a London tourist attraction. The team helped to collate and prepare the video data that demonstrated the suspect’s behaviour prior to the crime and the crime itself, leading to a successful prosecution and an eight-year prison sentence.
Some of the VIIDO volunteers work up to 60 hours a month, he added, and are very resourceful in preparing video and solving problems.
Any enquiries on establishing a volunteer VIIDO should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org