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Perfect ten for city’s CCTV


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Peterborough’s CCTV system celebrates its 10th birthday on Tuesday 27 March after recording more than 100,000 incidents and playing a vital role in detaining more than 15,000 people during the past decade.

 


When it was first installed in March 1997, 45 cameras kept a watchful eye on the city centre and council-run car parks. Now, there are 136 cameras operating around the clock, seven days a week, with coverage extended to include the city’s townships, local community shopping areas, residential and business districts, and a host of public buildings.

Video tape has been ditched in favour of digital recording and the eagle-eyed operators now have direct radio links with police. Live images can be beamed to Cambridgeshire Constabulary and operators are linked by radio to retailers, pubs, clubs and city council staff across Peterborough. Advances in technology have resulted in the introduction of mobile cameras, which are also used for police controlled Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operations.

“The city’s cameras have been responsible for recording more than 100,000 incidents and instrumental in helping to detain 15,574 people,” said the city council’s CCTV manager Roy Wildman. “These figures provide conclusive and compelling evidence that CCTV has significantly assisted the criminal justice system. It has helped police deal with everything ranging from routine crime to large scale national investigations.

“The system’s effectiveness was demonstrated within days of going live when CCTV operators were able to locate and direct police to a man who was responsible for an armed robbery at a city centre building society.

“Since then it has captured disorder involving rival fans prior to a pre-season friendly football match between Peterborough and Nottingham Forest in 2001. The value of the CCTV evidence received praise from the Crown Court judge in his sentencing of some 19 people for various offences of disorder and violence.

“In addition, details of a sex offender believed to be in Peterborough were passed to the CCTV team via Cambridgeshire Constabulary. CCTV operators located him in the Westwood area that evening and the police were able to arrest him. He was later convicted of rape and his capture, as with numerous offences solved over the past 10 years, was thanks to the city’s CCTV system.”

Peterborough was the first local authority CCTV system in the country to have a police liaison officer work within its control room. This extended to include networked computer links to enable the officer to carry out the CCTV investigation of reported crimes and incidents, provide control room staff with daily crime trends, and details of wanted and missing people. In addition, it allowed items of intelligence captured via CCTV to be directly recorded onto the police intelligence systems.

Chief Inspector Steve Lodge said: “CCTV is a vital and extremely successful crime prevention and crime fighting tool. Cameras act as an effective deterrent and their ability to capture crime in action allows us to present compelling evidence for prosecution.

“We will continue to work closely with the council’s CCTV operators to build on the success seen over the past 10 years.”

Recorded images are retained for 31 days and are essential for post incident investigation by police. However, other agencies such as HM Revenue and Customs, as well as council departments with enforcement responsibilities, see CCTV as a vital tool.

“Residents can be in no doubt that the CCTV system has made the city’s streets safer over the past 10 years,” said Councillor Graham Murphy, Cabinet member for Environment and Community Safety at the city council. “The city’s 136 cameras fulfil an essential crime fighting role and I am sure we will be celebrating their continued success in another 10 years.

“By then advances in software will allow better identification of people through a facial recognition system and operators will be alerted to any unusual behaviour through behavioural recognition software. There will be greater use of wireless technology and networks for CCTV transmission, as well as nationally agreed strategies for CCTV and its use to achieve uniformity of standards and operation.

“Meanwhile, I welcome the ongoing proactive and positive work the CCTV officers have been carrying out over the past 12 months. There involvement in tackling environmental crime in the city, which has helped to strengthen our stance on enforcement, has proved invaluable.”

March 2007 - Peterborough UK Community Website

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