Wednesday, 5 January 2011

CCTV is a total waste of money and the cops aren't much cop either.


OK so you don't believe me? In Bradford - where we've spent millions on fancy cameras and plenty on men to watch them - the cameras are unable to provide a good enough resolution picture for identification from a well lit area of individuals who are not hooded or masked. And the response of the police to me (I was chairing a Stronger & Safer Communities Scrutiny Committee) when I asked for some evidence was this:

Dear Cllr Cooke

Thank you for raising the query last night about the quality of evidential CCTV in the City and your concerns that this was impeding our ability to identify suspects.

I have spoken with my CCTV Team this morning who have reassurred me that in over 90% of the cases they investigate the picture quality of BMDC CCTV is to a good or excellent standard. There are however some occasions when the pictures are grainy or unclear which can be down to the lighting or the fact that we are relying on some of the older cameras or even the UTC cameras.

There are also numerous private CCTV systems in the City installed by shops and businesses which are not always of sufficient quality to use evidentially.

As discussed last night the updating and maintainance of these cameras is a challenge for the council due to the financial constaints at this time and the fact that this is a non statutory service makes it an area for potential cutbacks.

As a police officer I recognise the evidential value of CCTV and I hope that as a partnership we are able to support Phil Holmes and his team in maintaining what is as this time a very comprehensive system which assists in keeping our Towns and Cities safer.

 (from crime reduction inspector)

Now I've read an re-read this and find it most reassuring. The Inspector is assured by her team - no evidence, just assurance - that it's all fine and hunky-dory. Except that some of the cameras ore 'older', others are cheap ones put up by shops and still others (UTC cameras) aren't very good. That leaves - not very many at all that really do the job. And those might be subject to reduced maintenance because of Council spending cuts.

I intend to ask how many prosecutions of City Centre robberies have been achieved as a result of identifications by CCTV. I expect the answer to be a pretty small number. What annoys me most is that a serious assault can take place in the City Centre and the Police will rely almost exclusively on CCTV identification, witness statements and getting the witnesses and victim (assuming they can) to flick through a few snapshots of possible culprits. If this doesn't throw anything up the case file is bunged in the "can't solve this now, got better/easier things to do" pile in the hope that the criminals do another crime and the cops get lucky. No effort, none of that meticulous investigation, no using the CCTV as a guide to avenues of enquiry, no extra patrolling. Nothing.

All this because, of course, CCTV can catch all those baddies! Except that it doesn't work.



Anonymous said...

Dear Sir
Get used to it
The whole country is reaping the 'success' of Tony Blair.s Govt.

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