Mobile deterrent

Mobile CCTV cameras are the new visible face of policing and Cumbria Constabulary is successfully deploying the technology to combat anti-social behaviour and football-related violence.

Jun 18, 2009
By Paul Jacques
South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Lauren Poultney with Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest and OK9 Wellbeing dog Buddy with their Leadership award.

Mobile CCTV cameras are the new visible face of policing and Cumbria Constabulary is successfully deploying the technology to combat anti-social behaviour and football-related violence.

Designed to assist police in reducing street crime and anti-social behaviour, vehicle-mounted digital CCTV video systems are a proven resource, providing a highly-visibile deterrent and a high-quality evidential audiovisual record of events or incidents.
Cumbria Constabulary is using the latest digital mobile CCTV technology to tackle anti-social behaviour in key hotspot areas across the force’s northern command area – specifically Carlisle city centre – and to deliver a rapidly deployable resource to assist with crowd control on match days, which has resulted in a number of prosecutions following clashes between rival fans.

Immediate impact
For the past 12 months, advanced digital PatrolVu mobile CCTV technology from TSS (Traffic Safety Systems) – part of AD Group – has been fitted out in a large, high-roofed CCTV van which was formerly used by a local safety partnership for traffic law enforcement.
The van, in bright yellow livery, is now equipped with dual CCTV controls for the operator in the back – with a large 19in screen – and the driver; a 360-degree mast camera and a forward-facing camera. Prior to this, the PatrolVu solution was deployed by Cumbria in a smaller Mercedes Sprinter van which, although effective, had to double up as a custody vehicle, which meant if suspects had to be taken back to the station, then surveillance coverage could be lost. Fortunately this is not an issue with the latest CCTV vehicle which does not have a dual role.
PatrolVu features instantaneous fast-forward and rewind and a 60-second pre-event record facility to ensure that no crucial incident is missed. Simultaneous record and playback features give a high level of officer protection and operational flexibility, and also reduces the incidence of fraudulent claims against the police.
One of the key benefits Cumbria Police has found with the latest, high-visibility, CCTV van is the immediate impact that its appearance can have at key hotspots in the city centre, in terms of acting as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour.
Ian McCrone, crime scene investigator (CSI) at Cumbria Constabulary, specialising in video evidence gathering, explained: “People often ask me to quantify the impact of our mobile CCTV van. What I see, on a daily basis, is the difference its presence makes once we are parked-up, and the mast camera fully deployed, in terms of stopping incidents or preventing an escalation in those already in progress.
“Often it is the friend of the individual who is being violent, and may be too inebriated to notice, that spots our van and responds by taking them away from the situation to calm down.
“Of course should the van prove not to be deterrent enough then we still have recourse to the digital evidence recorded by PatrolVu to take appropriate action against the culprits.”
He added: “When it comes to Friday and Saturday nights, with the major influx of revellers into the city centre, we will typically position the camera van on the main street in Carlisle, where, using our 360-degree mast camera, we can pretty much cover the street and the doorways of every pub and club in the vicinity and zoom in on areas of interest.
“Although we predominantly use the top camera, the forward-fixed camera provides a useful vantage point when we want to pick up activity during an incident from a different perspective, especially if the main camera is pointing in the other direction and a suspect tries to run-off.
“This was highlighted in a recent incident where a male claimed to have been attacked by a female which, when challenged, she denied. We had not initially witnessed the assault but, when reviewing the footage, we realised that the complainant had been telling the truth all along as the female’s actions were picked up clearly on the smaller fixed camera.”
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