Many countries around the world are installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance camera systems as an additional tool in fighting crime and making their streets safe. Based on many studies, the very presence of camera surveillance systems has discouraged criminals, thus preventing crimes from happening.
Police investigators across the globe are using footage from surveillance cameras in their investigations of crimes. They clearly state over and again, that the videos captured are very effective in solving crimes because they record and capture the crime as it unfolds and create valuable evidence for court trials. Additionally, home and business owners are also finding great value in using CCTV footage when their homes or businesses are compromised.
One of the many countries that employ CCTV camera system in both public and private spaces is Great Britain. The popularity of surveillance cameras in the country is due to their effectiveness in solving crimes. Based on a recent study, a great number of murders investigated by detectives from Scotland Yard have benefited by using camera footage as evidence. A 2009 report showed that of the 90 murder cases recorded during the year, CCTV footage was used in 86 of the cases. According to senior police officers, 65 of the cases were solved because the crimes were captured on camera or the movements of the criminals were tracked before or after their attacks.
In fact, according to Commander Simon Foy of Scotland Yard’s Homicide Department, CCTV cameras are as important as forensic evidence like DNA samples and fingerprints in the investigations conducted by their detectives.
In the United States, CCTV systems are also very popular due to their effectiveness in deterring crime. One example is the case of a lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee in mid-June 2017. Attorney Grover Collins claimed that he immediately called 911 when his security system sent a notification to his phone following the detection of motion in his yard. According to Collins, he immediately activated his system’s audible security alarm after watching two men who were attempting to enter his house from his smartphone. He also gave the footage taken by his system to the police to help them in their investigation.
Ways CCTV footage can help in crime investigation and prevention
There are various ways in which surveillance cameras can help deter the commission of a crime and in the investigation conducted by the police in the event that a crime is committed:
- CCTV cameras can be used to monitor a house or business while unoccupied. Like in the case above, camera surveillance systems are effective as a tool to protect your abode against criminals.
- The footage can be used to identify the suspects, witnesses, as well as the vehicles involved in the crime.
- The police can examine the behavior of the suspects before, during, and after an incident or the commission of a crime.
- The investigators can use the footage to look for clues that point to forensic opportunities.
- Detectives can use the footage to establish the timeline of an incident or a crime.
- The footage can be utilized to determine the entry and exit points from the scene of the crime.
- The police can use the footage to verify the accuracy of the statements of both the suspects and the witnesses of a crime.
- CCTV is efficient, as police officers can often monitor the activities of individuals or areas from a central headquarters rather than conducting foot or car patrols.
- In abduction cases, the video footage would be a vital source of information to track down a person quickly and possibly save the life of the abducted individual.
Benefits of CCTV footage in a police investigation
Here are some benefits of using CCTV video during a crime investigation:
- The use of the footage as evidence of an offense or crime could result in a guilty plea of the suspects, reducing costs by avoiding court trials.
- The videos can be used to prove or disprove allegations against a person.
- The footage could be used in the investigations of a missing individual or person.
- The videos can be used as a source of material backup for witness testimony.
- The videos can be used as evidence of the actions and response provided by the police following the commission of a crime.
Some applications of CCTV cameras in police operations
CCTV cameras can also be used by the police in their day-to-day activities. Here are some ways in which a camera surveillance system can be used by the police:
- Patrol vehicle in-car cameras
- Conduct of training
- Crime scene processing
- Tactical operations
- Undercover surveillance operations
- Robbery investigation
- Vehicle collision investigation
- Undercover surveillance
- Video line-up
- Interrogating witnesses and suspects
Despite issues raised by individuals and groups who are against the use of surveillance cameras in public places due to issues of privacy, many governments, cities and businesses around the world are installing CCTV surveillance systems as part of their efforts to protect the public against crimes and property damage. The police authorities are also using camera footage to help in their investigation of crimes, as well as information gathering.
For individuals who wish to add another layer of security to their lives, CCTV footage captured is essential. In cases that early warning systems such as motion detectors can remotely alert a homeowner of a breach, fast action can be taken that can prevent losses. If a crime has already occurred, the video of the incident is a valuable piece of evidence for law enforcement and can make capturing and prosecuting criminals much easier and less costly.