Smarter CCTV fights crime

Monday, 12 May, 2008

The impressive state-of-the-art video wall at the Enfield Public Safety Centre, Edmonton

Siemens Building Technologies Security Systems is contributing to the debate on recent comments in the media questioning the effectiveness of CCTV in fighting crime.

"It is an indisputable fact that CCTV is having a positive impact on reducing crime rates," states Peter Hawksworth managing director, Siemens Building Technologies Security Systems, "Our customers have the statistics to prove it. For example, rail operator, First Capital Connect has seen a reduction of almost 50% in crime since taking over the operating franchise two years ago. The lower crime levels have been credited to a sophisticated video surveillance network."

The image quality which can be achieved with the latest digital technology is far superior to the clarity and definition available from the first analogue closed-circuit television systems. Access to better quality images provides the police authorities with a more powerful resource in the fight against crime.

Peter continues: "Digital images can be viewed instantly and searched by a range of criteria including colour, size, date and time. Recordings can be viewed and played back simultaneously unlike analogue where the footage has to be searched backwards and forwards. A complete town centre CCTV system can be managed through a single computer screen and images can be viewed from anywhere in the country sharing vital information instantaneously."

High definition video footage is an essential requirement of a CCTV installation and in addition to helping with crime prevention and detection can also be used to manage traffic flow for example.

In Liverpool, the bespoke City Watch CCTV installation tracks 'live' incidents with a specially created video wall with high quality evidential images and a fully-documented audit trail supported by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras (ANPR) Arrests attributed to the system are in the region of 30-35 a week, with 50 stolen cars a day spotted in Liverpool using ANPR.

Peter says "To maximise the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and detecting crime, agencies such as the police and the council need to take a co-ordinated approach. The Enfield Public Safety Centre (EPSC) has bought together First Capital Connect, Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and the British Transport Police. The Centre provides a combined CCTV control, traffic enforcement and alarm receiving base 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Centre has helped the police to provide evidence for trials and prosecutions leading to approximately 2,000 arrests.

Graeme Gerrard, Deputy Chief Constable, Cheshire Constabulary is chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Video and CCTV working group. He comments: "The EPSC gives a real opportunity to centralise the operation and work in partnership with other organisations to the benefit of us all. It is a fabulous facility that enables us to use CCTV in a smarter way."

"When a crime has occurred CCTV is a vital element in the investigative process. In certain major investigations it can be particularly substantial and significant, as it has been in some terrorist cases. Overall ACPO believes the contribution of CCTV to the detection of crime is likely to equal that of DNA and fingerprints.

The market for network video surveillance (IP surveillance) in Europe is currently experiencing considerable growth and network based solutions are now becoming more common.

"By sharing IT infrastructures, users can make considerable savings. Technology is changing and the use of IP will become more and more popular as companies invest in new networks which will allow them to cost-effectively combine services." Concludes Peter.

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