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Derek Maltby interview Part 2: National CCTV and preventing crime

Derek Maltby, Managing Director of Global MSC Security, offers his thoughts on some of the questions in icomply’s survey ‘How Effective is CCTV’.

Is national CCTV very effective in capturing criminal incidents?

“I think it is, but of course we don’t know how many incidents the CCTV could have captured.  If a camera is pointing the wrong way, an operator won’t necessarily know what they’re missing.  Good observation and detection will come from intuition, training and knowledge of the area, but this is where a good operator can be really effective.

If it’s a crime or an incident in progress that is out of the ordinary and in an unusual location, it’s generally has to be luck that it’s captured.  Perhaps one day, cameras in the high street wont be monitored by operators, but HD/Megapixel cameras will capture the whole of the high street so historically, nothing is missed.  This would mean that all information is recorded, even if it wasn’t seen by the operator.”

Is CCTV a strong deterrent?

“I don’t think it is any more.  People accept CCTV in shops, office premises and in the public high street, but it doesn’t stop shoplifters from still carrying out theft, even though they might know that they’re likely to be watched.  By the same token, if the offender isn’t being watched by a police officer or a security guard in uniform when they carry out an offence, I don’t think they fear being captured on CCTV.  They know there’s got to be a number of elements that are in place for them to be unlucky enough to be captured at the time.

Of course, public space CCTV operations such as local authorities’ are very poor at publicising their good results, and that’s such a shame.  It all comes back perhaps to this lack of information.  Are the control rooms aware of who has been convicted or found guilty?  Is there a process in place that enables the council or others to publish the image of that person that was captured?  They should be able to tell the public about the good quality of information they can provide, to warn other potential criminals that if they transgress in a similar way, they’re likely to be caught.”

Until the operators and the criminals are made aware of the positive views of CCTV, we’re missing a trick.  We’re spending a lot of money but not maximising the benefit because we’re not publicising the good results.  That is such a shame because there’s a lot of good results, but people are too busy with their day job, catching the next person, to actually publicise what’s happened already.”

Is government funding the key to improving CCTV?

“To improve CCTV nationally, we need to improve the way CCTV is managed in a joined-up fashion.  We now have a surveillance camera commissioner: whether he implements any of the National CCTV Strategy which was created by the last government, I don’t know.  It will be very useful if some of the strategic recommendations are adopted because there’s a lot of common sense in there.  It would mean that councils get more “bang for their buck”, as CCTV would be managed in a co-ordinated fashion.  I’m aware of one council that I deal with that have five control rooms within a 400m radius – one local authority, two county council control rooms, two shopping centre control rooms.  That can’t be sensible.  The sooner we have got the strategy of ‘let’s all work towards the same goals across boundaries and local authorities’, the closer we’ll be to improving national CCTV.”

Thanks to Derek Maltby for taking the time to express his views on the icomply blog.  A detailed analysis of the results of the survey ‘How Effective is CCTV’ will be published in the New Year.  In the mean time, you can read our infographics on icomply’s previous survey into the effect of the recession on control room budgets.