Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan spoke about plans to implement CCTV cameras in Cayman as part of ongoing efforts to reduce crime in Cayman at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon, held Thursday at the Wharf.
Part of the RCIPS crime reduction strategy over the next three to five years, Mr. Kernohan said that CCTV (closed circuit television) is a high priority piece of technology, which will significantly assist in the reduction of crime.
‘The use of technology to help reduce crime is not a new thing and goes back decades,’ Mr. Kernohan said. ‘CCTV cameras have been used by the police for many years, although the technology has come on leaps and bounds.’
To help put it in perspective, Mr. Kernohan said that London had roughly 400,000 CCTV cameras – approximately one to every 10 people in the UK and that they had helped play a significant role in the reduction of crime. He added that when CCTV was first installed in areas of Scotland during the 1970s, crime fell by approximately 60 per cent.
The Police Commissioner said that CCTV’s role in crime prevention was two-fold. Firstly it helps prevent crime by what he called ‘perception of detection’.
‘If a criminal thinks they are going to get caught they are unlikely to commit the crime,’ he explained.
The second, Mr. Kernohan said, is detection, which leads to more successful prosecutions.
He cited past high-profile cases in the UK, where CCTV had played a significant role, including the July 2005 London bombings. The bombers were captured on CCTV and the footage was shown worldwide via the media.
Mr. Kernohan also commented on the role that CCTV cameras can play in traffic control. He said that dashboard cameras are an option in police vehicles, which can help reduce non-guilty pleas in road-traffic offences.
In his speech Mr. Kernohan explained how research shows that CCTV does have a reduction in crime. He added that although some critics argue that CCTV cameras merely displace the problem, he said that this would not be an issue on such a small island.
Mr. Kernohan also discussed privacy and civil liberties implications, commenting that safeguards and legislation will be in place.
He said: ‘If you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.’
Mr. Kernohan said that CCTV will allow the police force to work smarter.
‘It is about the best use of resources. As we use more technology it means a member of staff can be working on something else.’
Proposed areas for the installation of CCTV include George Town and Seven Mile Beach, although Mr. Kernohan said that exact locations and the number of cameras are undecided.
The Police Commissioner was unable to give a precise cost of introducing CCTV cameras, citing that it would be in the low millions. He stressed that this was a small cost to pay in the fight against crime.
‘Once people realise what can be done (with CCTV) people will want it in their area,’ he said. ‘CCTV is already a known and viable crime reduction methodology and it will help Cayman to reduce crime.
‘Although it is just a small part of our crime reduction strategy, in my opinion it will be an important part.’
Mr. Kernohan said that it would go to tender which would take a minimum of six months. He encouraged companies to look at the possibility of sponsoring a CCTV camera and donating space for the infrastructure, adding that everyone has a vested interest to drive crime down.