CCTV Doesn’t Work

Stephen R Pearson – CEO Remvox Global communications Group

That’s a pretty bold statement but for the most part it’s true. Ask yourself the question why do people buy CCTV systems? The prime reason would be to prevent crime, the secondary reason being to identify criminals with a view to arresting and prosecuting them for the crimes that they’ve been seen to commit.

Let’s look at the primary reason – to prevent crime. When CCTV first came out it was seen as the answer to all problems crime related, and did in fact have a positive effect on crime figures. The government at the time saw it as the solution for problems in town centres and pumped a lot of money into providing funding for those Local Authorities who could put forward a viable reason as to why they should have it. This went on for many years and most town centres of reasonable size now have a CCTV system. CCTV however in its current form is not effective.

CCTV systems are reactive and used for evidence gathering, so in terms of the primary reason for installing a CCTV system, which is to prevent crime, they fail fairly miserably. They don’t, except in a few cases prevent crime, they react to crimes being committed, which often is too late. The police do not generally have the resources to be everywhere at once and respond to notifications from control rooms, central monitoring stations or members of the public that a crime is in progress. This is reactive. Quite often by the time they get to the scene the criminals are long gone, therefore the evidence needs to be retrieved from the recording equipment linked to the cameras to see if identification of the criminal can be made. This can be a time consuming and an often fruitless process resulting in a lot of wasted man-hours by the police and associated staff, which could be better spent on front line policing.

So what is the solution? Audio intervention is the solution, and has proven to be the most effective method of preventing crime when used in conjunction with CCTV cameras.

What is audio intervention you may ask? Well it’s as the name implies, the use of audio to intervene on crimes being committed or any situations observed on camera that a live announcement would help to resolve. I’m biased on the subject because we at Remvoxtm have developed the most technologically advanced audio intervention systems in the world. It’s a bold statement, but true. We have developed and are patenting Public Address speaker systems that can talk from anywhere to anywhere in the world without the need for wiring. This is a revelation in terms of the CCTV industry. Any existing CCTV system can have an audio intervention solution, and as a retrofit Remvoxtm  systems are the perfect solution. The systems can be deployed with relative ease in a short space of time, with a complete solution covering hundreds of cameras being installed in a matter of days. Each individual unit is addressable and can be contacted by either phone, mobile phone, VOIP or with our world leading Remvox Control Suite (RCS). We have solar powered versions, flood warning systems and even bird control systems utilising our unique technology.

So what are the benefits of having a Remvoxtm system installed? The benefits are quite obvious, they give CCTV operators a voice and an opportunity to intervene before or as a crime is being committed. Very often that is all it takes to stop the crime. The fact that someone is shouting at a criminal, telling them that they are being recorded and that the police are on their way will be enough to stop the crime. Job done, the primary reason for having a CCTV system installed is being fulfilled – To prevent crime being committed.

Let’s look at some typical examples of crimes committed and the cost implications of them.

Case Study 1: Assault in a public place

This is something that happens day in, day out in every town/city in the country. A couple of drunken guys coming out of a pub or nightclub and squaring up against each other for a fight. The fight starts and the CCTV operator watching it radios through to the nearest police unit. They may be dealing with an RTA, another incident, or several minutes away before they get there. Several minutes is all it takes for someone to be seriously injured or worse still, killed. The fight kicks off and is over in a matter of minutes, the assailant walks away victorious and the other person lies injured on the ground. People are around trying to help him and make him comfortable until medical assistance arrives. The CCTV operator watching this is powerless to do anything other than call for an ambulance. The ambulance arrives and gives assistance at the scene and then takes the injured person to hospital. At the hospital they may need triage, or to be seen by a doctor/consultant. They may need an X-ray or CT scan, then possibly an operation depending upon the severity of the injury followed by a period of time in hospital on a ward taking up a valuable bed. They are then discharged and have outpatients appointments, all at a cost to the already overstretched NHS. That is the medical side of things which can run into tens of thousands of pounds of care.

Next the police side of the incident. The police arrive, and may need to take statements off witnesses and call in professional witnesses such as Scenes of Crime or Forensic Experts. The CCTV operator tries to retrieve good quality images off the CCTV system to use for identification of the assailant. Once/if identified the assailant is arrested and taken to a police station for interview. A duty solicitor would be called and the interview would take place. Depending upon the severity of the injuries the assailant would either be remanded in custody or bailed pending further enquiries. Further interviews may take place all requiring the presence of a solicitor, and the CPS may get involved to decide whether or not it should proceed to court. This is the police side of things costing potentially thousands of pounds.

Next the legal side of the incident. Having decided there is a case to answer a hearing would be set. This would be preceded with a lot of evidence gathering, witness statements and case notes prepared. At court there would be legal parties for both sides, solicitors and barrister, witnesses, police officers who dealt with the incident, plus the court staff, ushers, a judge etc. All costing tens of thousands of pounds. The court case may result in a custodial sentence.

Prison Service side of the incident. The assailant would be incarcerated at a cost to the taxpayer of tens of thousands of pounds after which they would be released and may be put on probation. They would have a period of time on probation, with meetings and follow-on reports rehabilitation. All costing tens of thousands of pounds.

This incident which happens every day has the potential of costing tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds. Taxpayer pounds which could be better spent elsewhere. It is however totally preventable.

AUDIO INTERVENTION CAN MAKE IT PREVENTABLE

For little expenditure, an audio intervention system can save millions of pounds. Is it therefore not a worthwhile investment? We aren’t talking of huge sums of money to save the money. Our systems are from as little as 65p per day per unit. That’s less than the price of a cup of coffee, and should be given serious consideration.

CASE STUDY 2: Burglary

Imagine the scene, it’s night time, and a CCTV operator is watching cameras on a commercial premises. He sees two figures with hoodies up approach a side window. They keep their backs to the direction of the CCTV camera at all times. Obviously they’ve done their homework and know where the CCTV cameras are and want to avoid identification. They force the window open, climb and inside. Meanwhile the operator has called the police and they are en-route but about 15 minutes away. They want to catch the thieves in the act and are doing their utmost to get there quickly. Two minutes later the thieves are climbing back out of the window, passing out computers/laptops to each other. Without so much as a glance at the camera they’re gone.

The police arrive ten minutes later, but can’t leave to scene insecure to go and look for the thieves. They have to wait on site for the key holder to arrive and arrange to make the premises secure. If they do leave they may be guilty of knowingly leaving premises insecure and at further risk to theft. Calling in another unit takes even more time and doubles the amount of manpower needed. Are they likely to tie up these many resources on what will probably be a futile task. The burglars are probably long gone.

The burglars may have a vehicle waiting round the corner in which to put the stolen property and make a change of clothing. One may drive off in the car to drop off the goods in a safe place, the other may carry on walking on foot. After all, the police are looking for two burglars in hoodies carrying computer equipment, not a single lad walking home with a jumper and scarf, on his way back from a friends house if stopped and questioned. They would probably need probable cause to stop and search him, and as he is on his own, doesn’t match the description given by the CCTV operator and isn’t carrying any stolen goods they are unlikely to be able to prove anything. Similarly the other burglar driving his car, shirt and tie, driving home from his girlfriends doesn’t fit the description and wouldn’t give probable cause to stop either, after all the patrol car is racing to the scene of the crime and wouldn’t give vehicles with single occupants a second glance, they’re looking for a couple of lads in hoodies carrying large items.

The outcome of this is that the police have nothing to show for their efforts, Scenes of Crime if called would get little or no useful evidence, The CCTV images show nothing identifiable and the business has lost potentially valuable items, not in terms of their commercial value, as computers are cheap enough to replace, but in the information that may have been held on them, and the business interruption and inconvenience caused until they can replace the computers and get back to normal again. The business may not even claim on their insurance as the excess may be the same as the cost of replacing the computers and the claim could cause premiums to rise the following year.

The scenario may differ slightly from this, the CCTV operator may be at an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) and responding to an alarm activation at the premises. The outcome would still be the same. The primary reason for having the CCTV system installed in the first place has not been achieved. It did not prevent the crime from being committed. If the system wasn’t monitored and only used for recording, then it is of little or no use and purely an evidence gathering tool of which there is none to gather. None that’s useable.

Is there a solution?

YES – AUDIO INTERVENTION CAN MAKE IT PREVENTABLE

The above scenario is really only effective if the CCTV system is a monitored one, however with a Remvoxtm system, it is very easy to retrofit to any existing CCTV system and make it a monitored one. The Remvoxtm speaker units have inputs which allow our PIR sensors to be fitted to them, which will facilitate notification to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). Requiring only the simple addition of a video transmission unit. The whole retrofit conversion from a non-monitored system to a monitored system can be completed in one or two days, requiring little or no interruption to the business. There are no cables to be run as the Remvoxtm systems are wire free and can be installed in any environment from as little as 65p per day per unit.

There are estimated to be as many as 6 million CCTV cameras in the UK, with probably around 80% of them ineffective in terms of preventing crime. As can be seen from the above two case studies audio intervention makes ineffective CCTV effective. There are of course many other case studies in terms of how audio intervention can be 100% effective, such as anti-social behaviour, vandalism and emergency evacuations.

Crime Statistics:

Source: www.ukcrimestats.com

The crime statistics for England and Wales make interesting reading and highlight the levels of crime each month over a 14 month period from Dec 2012 to Jan 2014

Looking at the violent crime graph below it can be seen that there has been a gradual increase in reported violent crime over the period covered with around 57,000 violent crimes committed each month. If 1% of those monthly crimes i.e. 570 were observed by a CCTV operator and resulted in injuries requiring medical treatment and police investigations at an average cost of £10,000 this would mean that the monthly cost to the public purse is around £5.7m

Consider the cost implication if each of the CCTV cameras that observed the offences had a Remvoxtm Audio Intervention Speaker fitted. If the audio intervention had prevented 50% of the assaults taking place, this would have resulted in a saving of £2.85m for a nominal cost of £339k and therefore a net saving of £2.5m that month.

violent-crime

If that figure is extrapolated over a 12 month period it is a saving of £68m. Now this figure is assuming that only 1% of the crimes were observed by a CCTV operator, it may be more, it may be less. Whatever the figure actually is, there can be no doubting that there would not only be a tangible saving in terms of financial casts, but also in terms of manpower and freeing the police up to concentrate on frontline policing and fee on the beat.

Let’s have a look at another statistic, that of Public Disorder and Weapons. It can be seen from the graph below that although it peaked in the middle of 2013 PD&W averages around 11,000 offences per month.

Again the public disorder offences are prime targets for audio intervention. Many public disorder offences can be preventable if the offenders know that they’re being observed and recorded, and the only way to let them know effectively is to tell them that they are. An operator announcing to them that they are being watched may be all that it takes to stop and disperse the situation, which would again result in a net saving to the public purse and free up valuable time.

Looking at the pie chart of crime shown below it can be seen that Violent Crime, Anti-Social Behaviour and Burglary make up around 3/5ths of crimes committed. The costs of dealing with these would take up a proportionate amount of the available budgets resulting in less being able to be spent in other areas. It is therefore imperative that the money that is available is spent wisely and effectively. This can only be achieved by looking towards advances in technology and utilising its benefits. This has been done effectively in some areas, such as ANPR, Thermal Imagery and the use of portable fingerprint scanners and linking of databases in an effective way with PNC. The one area where it hasn’t been effective up to now is in terms of providing audio intervention to assist and enhance CCTV. The reason isn’t because it isn’t effective because case studies have proved that it is.

The reason is that the technology hadn’t previously been utilised effectively until now. This is where Remvoxtm have come in. Previously audio intervention was only available in two forms, hard-wired and Radio Frequency (2-way radio type technology – RF) Hard-wired is prohibitively expensive and requires cables to be run from control point to speaker location. It lacks flexibility and is very limited in its uses. RF systems are usually limited to use in conferences and concerts with wireless microphones and are very limited in terms of range, especially in built-up areas resulting in an effective range of a few hundred metres.

Wi-Fi audio has now been developed, but is not really of sufficient quality to be totally effective. It also requires a Wi-Fi infrastructure, and isn’t easy to retrofit to existing CCTV systems, however as Wi-Fi networks are being expanded into public areas, these will become more prolific.

The Remvoxtm RV systems use the GSM networks to provide coverage. This facilitates in the ability to make announcements from anywhere to anywhere in the world. Anywhere there is GSM coverage. This has tremendous implications in the ability to provide essential communications as a retrofit to any existing CCTV system and works independently of the CCTV. The systems that we have developed are a full control system and not just a remote speaker, which are capable of accepting inputs from a number of sensors/detectors as well as providing outputs to operate gates, lights, pretty much anything that can be turned on/off. The systems give the operators complete command and control of any situation.

For more information on how a Remvoxtm Audio Intervention System can be of benefit to you, contact info@remvox.co or visit the website www.remvox.co

Note: Steve Pearson, CEO Remvox Global Communications Group is a former army officer with over twenty years experience in the security industry.