Metro, security firms join forces to share info caught on camera
A newly approved CCTV camera policy is set to reduce crime across Nelson Mandela Bay as private security providers link their camera feeds to law enforcement control rooms.
The policy seeks to govern all CCTV cameras erected on municipal land and public areas.
The new regulations, approved by the council on November 30, have already led to several security providers entering into a memorandum of understanding.
The policy states that the aim is to regulate the cameras in an attempt to deter crime, create effective evidence collection options and promote a safer metro.
In the Bay, security companies ADT and Atlas Security have dominated the market and said there were plans to place more cameras across the metro.
Both companies have reported a drop in crime in areas with the cameras.
Together the companies have more than 170 CCTV cameras scattered across the Bay.
Some of the cameras also have Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) capabilities, with most of them linked to law enforcement control rooms to assist with tracking down suspects and stolen cars.
Each camera – depending on the type – costs between R50 000 and R100 000 to install.
Municipal safety and security executive director advocate Keith Meyer said they did not want to deter security companies from erecting cameras, but stressed that this needed to be strictly controlled.
“These are mechanisms that deter crime. This is the way of the future and we need the public-private partnership to promote a safer metro,” he said.
The policy states that the municipal CCTV control room will have access to all the cameras through an internet connection.
Meyer said that it allowed authorities, through state-owned control rooms, to tap into the data and use it to track down criminals.
“So if your car is stolen or you are robbed, the control room can be requested by police to identify the closest camera in the area to see if we can spot who is driving and the direction in which they fled,” he said.
“In addition to this, it can assist law enforcement to track down criminals within minutes of a crime being committed. At the moment, they ride around hoping to find the car or the suspects.”
The policy warns all companies to register their CCTV cameras by December 31 next year.
“During our research we found that the police did not know who to ask for footage as the cameras are controlled by companies and not run from one central control room,” safety and security political head John Best said.
“The safety and security directorate will maintain a central database of CCTV cameras in the Bay.”
He said the cameras would also be used for bylaw enforcement – to identify illegal dumping and speeding cars.
When applying for permission, the security company undergoes a stringent vetting process through a series of departments.
A vetting committee would then assess and ensure standards are met.
After assessment, the metro can dictate if placing cameras on a municipal infrastructure is allowed or if a pole needs to be installed. The cameras will only be approved if they comply with a series of regulations.
“Numerous bylaws and regulations have to be assessed and reviewed by the committee in order for approval to be given to ensure it is fully compliant with the law,” Best said.
Atlas Security spokesman Wayne Hart said they had 151 cameras across the Bay which worked from a hot list provided by authorities.
Hart said any car on the wanted list would be flagged and, in turn, the authorities would be alerted.
“When a hot list car passes a camera, the control room hub and 10111 are notified, as well as the investigating officer who then activate protocols to intercept and apprehend,” he said.
Port Elizabeth Fidelity ADT Security branch manager Ryan Britz said they had more than 20 cameras across the Bay.
Currently, they were in the process of sending the live video feed to the metro police and police.