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Little hard evidence CCTV helps solve crimes
12:00pm Friday 24th August 2012 in News
POLICE have admitted they have no widespread evidence that CCTV solves crimes.
Thames Valley Police said it would have to go through each crime recorded on CCTV to see if cameras helped catch the culprit.
A force report said: “TVP’s systems do not readily enable a large scale analysis of the contribution CCTV makes to solving crime.”
It said a sample review of town centre fights showed CCTV “seems to contribute to detecting violent crime in a significant minority of cases”.
Critics said the force had to do more to convince the public that the 251 county cameras – which cost £330,000 to run last year are catching crooks.
Ch Supt Tim De Meyer said: “Solving crime is complicated and involves a number of other factors such as eyewitness and forensic evidence.
“Therefore, to assess the contribution of CCTV, we have to look at things case by case and assess all the evidence.”
He said: “There are no figures readily available for Oxford and this would require a substantial piece of work.”
But he added: “CCTV plays an important role in detecting town centre crime such as alcohol related violence”.
The force can “quickly spot trouble before it gets out of hand” and uses cameras to monitor major events like football matches, he said.
But Big Brother Watch campaign group deputy director Emma Carr said there was “no credible evidence” that CCTV cut crime.
She said: “In too many cities across the country every street corner has a camera but the sight of a police officer is rare.
“Surveillance is an important tool in modern policing but it is certainly not a substitute for actual policing.”
And No CCTV group spokesman Charles Farrier branded TVP’s claim that CCTV combats a “significant minority” of crimes as weak.
He said: “No wonder they shy away from an analysis of the contribution cameras make to solving crime – they know they’d get the wrong answer.”
Last year Thames Valley Police turned down an Oxford Mail Freedom of Information request for figures on three cameras installed in East Oxford in 2009.
The force said it would cost too much to respond to our request for how many crimes they had helped solve. Former Oxford City Council member Nuala Young, who raised concerns over the £48,000 plans, said: “CCTV is only effective when there are police officers to respond.
She added: “There should be records in a city like Oxford.”
The force is to cut officer numbers by 400 to 4,034 by March 2015 and its backroom staff by 459 to 2,541.
The force operates 52 cameras from Banbury Police Station, 92 from Abingdon, 53 from Oxford and 54 from Witney.