Friday, 5 February 2010

Criminal cash used to fund CCTV

I've often said that we need more cameras on the streets, not fewer. Now the police in Kettering (halfway between Peterborough and Coventry) are using money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act to buy CCTV cameras for residents.

The article says £25,000 will be used to buy 700 cameras but I find that difficult to believe because that would put the price of the cameras at £35 each - maybe they're getting a bulk discount.

The cameras will be connected to residents' televisions and enable them to view the exterior of their house on one of the TV channels. They'll even be able to record it.

This sounds like a great idea, giving reassurance to vulnerable people or people who are just sick and tired of being harassed, but there are a number of things I worry about:

1. The cameras are being aimed at the residents' properties and not out into the main street "for privacy reasons". Well, so long as you aren't using a long lens to look in the windows of your neighbours across the road, there aren't any privacy issues, and you run the risk of missing some vital evidence.

2. While the cameras can be recorded onto VHS tape, that is presumably only on-demand recording so if there is an incident occurring, the resident has to have the presence of mind to dash over to the telly and turn on the video recorder.

3. Have the police given any thought to how they are going to respond as residents begin to ask them to come round and look at their videotape? Do they have the resources to cope with the potential flood of evidence that will be generated by this?

So, nice idea - certainly earns the police some brownie points - but I would like to see these questions ironed out in future.

- Tom Reeve, editor, CCTV Image magazine