‘We’re watching you’

2016-06-28 15:07
A screengrab of the video showing the arrest of the smash and grab suspect on Jakes Gerwell Drive.

A screengrab of the video showing the arrest of the smash and grab suspect on Jakes Gerwell Drive.

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In just over four months, the City of Cape Town’s Metro Police unit have made hundreds of arrests with the help of CCTV cameras.

The City’s Strategic Surveillance Unit is set to install additional CCTV cameras to the tune of nearly R12m in the new financial year.
The Safety and Security Directorate has set aside around R7.4m for 10 new cameras in areas like Goodwood, Silvertown, Bridgetown and Gatesville.
In addition 26 ward councillors have also made ward allocation funding available totaling R4.45m for cameras in their respective areas.

The Strategic Surveillance Unit is in the process of retrofitting existing cameras with automatic number plate recognition (LPR) capability and plans are being finalised for the upgrade of the City’s fibre network system.

The City has introduced the Regulation of External and Privately Owned CCTV Cameras on City Property Policy, which was approved in June 2014 (“Residents must register CCTV cameras”, People’s Post, 8 December 2015).

The policy aims to better regulate the increase in privately owned CCTV cameras that are installed on City land and infrastructure and to keep an effective record of ownership of such infrastructure, should footage be required in investigations by the South African Police Service and information gathering by the City’s law enforcement agencies.

Currently, the City has a network of 440 CCTV cameras in various parts of Cape Town.
In the first four months of the year, the camera network detected 3313 incidents including accidents, crime and fires among others.
A total of 108 arrests have been made during this period.

The cameras have the ability to stop criminals in their tracks, as at least five suspects discovered in the last two weeks.
. On Tuesday 21 June just before 09:00, CCTV operators noticed a suspicious vehicle in Calypso Square, Town Centre. Law Enforcement officers in the area responded and caught three men doing drugs in a white Toyota Conquest.
. On Monday 20 June, CCTV operators noticed a suspect breaking into a shack in Site B, Khayelitsha. They alerted Metro Police who responded and caught the suspect red-handed with the stolen items. He was charged with breaking and entering.
. On Monday 13 June just after 15:00, CCTV operators spotted an attempted smash-and-grab incident on the corner of Jakes Gerwel Drive and Jakkalsvlei Road in Bonteheuwel. The CCTV operators kept an eye on the main suspect and directed Metro Police officers to the area. The officers apprehended the suspect just minutes after the incident. The 25-year-old is a known smash-and-grab suspect.
“These incidents are but a few examples of where our remote policing capabilities have made a real difference. The camera operator is able to keep an eye on suspects and lead the responding officers right to them. Even where arrests aren’t made immediately, the footage can also be useful after the fact to help the South African Police Service track down offenders,” says Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith.
“There is, however, still room for improvement. The response doesn’t always match the real-time events because resources are thinly spread. I’m also not convinced that the footage is being used as effectively as it could and the system is not immune to vandalism and theft of infrastructure. That being said, we are making progress and those with criminal intent are warned: you could be the next to be caught in the act.”

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