Thursday, 14 January 2010

CCTV scam uncovered in Moscow

Moscow police have learned that a private company that was supposed to be monitoring CCTV cameras and passing video to the police were instead giving them faked video footage.

It is alleged that the scam was designed to cover up the fact that many of the cameras were either not working or had not been installed.

This report from has the details:

The company that monitors the cameras, StroyMontageService, is just one of several private companies that provide this service in Moscow.

According to, Moscow has more than 80,000 security cameras.

According to Axxon, a provider of video management software to the Moscow CCTV system, many of these cameras protect residents in publicly owned housing.

* Hat tip to Ilker Dervish for alerting me to this story.

UPDATE: This is turning into an interesting story. I'll see what else I can dig up and perhaps write it up for the February edition of CCTV Image.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Crime: CCTV question

There was a short debate in the House of Lords yesterday regarding CCTV.

It started with a question from Lord Craig of Radley: "To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the value of closed circuit television in fighting crime and securing convictions of offenders."

Lord West of Spithead - formerly the First Sea Lord (when this picture was taken) and now Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office - replied that CCTV was known to work but the new CCTV regulator, Andrew Rennison, would be examining the evidence base.

Lord Craig asked about recent media reports (see below) which claim that the number of crimes solved in London due to CCTV had fallen from one in two to one in seven. "Does the remit of the new national CCTV oversight body have any regard to the cost-effectiveness and value for money of the considerable number of CCTV systems installed at
great expense by Her Majesty's Government?"

Lord West replied: "...from April 2007 to March 2008,
CCTV was used in 86 out of 90 investigations of murder and helped to solve 65 of them. The camera footage captured crime taking place or was used to track movements of suspects. In a third of those cases, witnesses were able to identify the murderer from it."

Later in the debate, Lord West mentioned he had conducted a private little survey of his own on the London Tube regarding CCTV. You can read the Press Association's write up here.

I can recommend the Lord's discussion - it's not long and it's very informative. It's here.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Toyota developing new night vision camera

Researchers working for car manufacturer Toyota are developing a new night vision camera that renders full colour images in near total darkness. By developing a new algorithm based on the night vision capabilities of the dung beetle (yes, those charming critters), they claim to be able to render fast moving images with a camera and graphics card.

You can read more about it at the New Scientist website here. (May require registration which is free).

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Bus robbers caught with help of CCTV

Without CCTV and audio recording on this bus, would these two thugs - who assaulted and robbed a bus driver - have been caught, prosecuted and convicted?

Criminals were apprehended and banged up long before CCTV was widely available, but cases often turned on witness statements which have to be weighed up and considered alongside testimony from the defense.

However, this image and the audio that went with it proved compelling evidence for the court. Not only did it show the severity of the attack, in which the bus driver was punched three times, it also recorded the audio of the robbers claiming they had a gun.

By supporting the victim's testimony, CCTV not only helps to prove the case but also assists the court in establishing an appropriate sentence, one that is commensurate with the actual severity of the crime.

In this case, the defendants were each sentenced to over three years in prison. What are the chances that if there hadn't been CCTV, and the court had had to rely solely on the bus driver's testimony, that the defendants would have got off with a much lighter sentence?

More details of the case here.

Telegraph bashes CCTV - again!

Happy New Year to everyone. It's nice to be back and what better way to kick off the new year than fending off another attack by anti-CCTV campaigners?

Article in today's Daily Telegraph -

Metropolitan Police Service admits that CCTV is a load of old cobblers - OK, I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of the article is, the Met has changed the way it tabulates statistics about the use of CCTV and, according to the Daily Telegraph, this somehow proves that CCTV is pointless.

I won't go into all the deficiencies of this article - I'll just hit the highlights and you can read the rest at your leisure.

It says the number of crimes in which CCTV was involved in the Met fell while at the same time acknowledging that the method for recording the stats had changed as well. As any statistician will tell you, that automatically invalidates any comparisons.

The article then dregs up DCI Mick Neville's quote (taken out of context from a report about Operation Javelin) about 1 in a 1000 cameras, etc. But what's this? According to the Met's own statistics, which the article quotes, CCTV was involved in 121,770 criminal investigations in 08/09. If there are (allegedly) 1 million cameras in the capital, that works out to one crime investigated per 8.26 cameras. But of course even that's misleading because investigators frequently use more than one camera to investigate a crime, as you would expect, so if for instance they used an average of four cameras per crime, then 8.26 becomes closer to 2.0.

Of course, as a CCTV User Group member wrote recently, cameras are used for far more than just crime prevention and investigation - they are also used for public safety, finding lost people, traffic monitoring, fire detection, and so on. And the staff in the control room often do more than simply monitor CCTV, they also provide a vital link between the council and the community through Careline, for instance.

But I digress...

In the very next paragraph, the author acknowledges that one in seven investigations used CCTV (which sounds pretty positive to me) but he paints it as a failure because it fell from 1 in 2 in 03/04, even though he acknowledges that the method for tabulating the statistics had changed during that time period (I'm feeling a bit dazed and confused at this point!).

Although there is an unattributed comment from "Scotland Yard sources" which underscores the fact that the counting method had been changed, not once in the article has the Met Police or any other force been given the chance to put the figures into perspective.

The last half of the article reads like a random cut and paste job, cherry picking negative quotes from every anti-CCTV article ever written, until the author gets to the obligatory rebuttal at the end. Having spent 34 paragraphs slaughtering CCTV, he gives Simon Foy (head of Homicide and Serious Crime Command at the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Directorate - a person who should know something about the effectiveness of CCTV in criminal investigations) just one paragraph to reply!

At least Mr Foy gets the last word. LOL!

So Happy New Year to all of you. If this says anything about 2010, it is perhaps that we can look forward to much the same from the anti-CCTV lobby as we saw in 2009.