Speed cameras not being installed
Some 167 closed-circuit television cameras will be going up at 60 different locations around Grand Cayman starting in late March, according to officials with the government Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs.
The installation process isn’t expected to be complete until June, but portfolio Deputy Chief Officer Eric Bush said the cameras should start working once they are installed at their respective locations.
The cameras will only monitor public areas and will not be allowed to surveil private property, Mr. Bush said.
‘CCTV cameras’ actually covers three different types of cameras including fixed video cameras, pan-tilt-zoom video cameras and automatic number plate readers (which take photos of licence plates).
All three will be installed at the various locations identified by police, which will be clearly marked with signage indicating the cameras are in use.
A fourth type, speed cameras, have not been purchased and will not be installed in the initial phase of the CCTV project. Mr. Bush said Cayman’s Traffic Law would have to be changed before those devices could legally be used on local roads.
The cameras will transmit images in real-time back to the 911 Emergency Services Centre where they will be “passively monitored” – meaning used when incidents are reported in a specific area.
The cameras will also transmit data to a secured storage location via either wireless or land line connections. After that, the recordings will be kept for at least 60 days, in case they are requested by police for review.
Police officers above a certain rank will be able to view the real-time CCTV cameras from George Town, Bodden Town, West Bay and Cayman Brac police stations once the system is installed, Mr. Bush said. However, those officers will not be able to control those cameras.
Some $2 million has been spent on purchasing the cameras and establishing the necessary infrastructure for the first phase of the system, but that’s not the end of CCTV.
Mr. Bush said the government’s plan eventually calls for 347 cameras – including 20 speed cameras – to be installed on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
The purchase of the remaining 180 or so cameras is expected to cost $800,000 and Mr. Bush hopes at least some of that funding will be received from Cayman’s private sector companies.
Separate bids will be issued for the installation and maintenance of the second phase of the CCTV project.
The Security Centre was hired to install and maintain the first batch of 167 cameras.
There will be an additional yearly cost for those maintenance services, which will include, among other things, cleaning of the glass screen covers for the camera lenses will have to be able to see through.
“We’ve built a foundation and now we’re installing the first floor of the house,” Mr. Bush said. “We still need to work on the second story and the roof.”
Preliminary designs for CCTV cameras on Little Cayman are also in the works, but its unclear whether any additional cameras will be placed there. The total 347 cameras, to be placed in 119 ‘pods’ or camera clusters, do not include any placements in Little Cayman.
The Cayman Islands has no law that governs the use of CCTV cameras in public rights of way. It seems likely such a law will still not exist when the cameras begin going up around Grand Cayman in March.
Over the past several months, portfolio officials and the Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission have been reviewing a code of practice for use of the cameras, which eventually must be approved by Cabinet.
However, in a review of a draft code last year, the Human Rights Commission found that the document was overly broad and that “some areas are very confused”.
For instance, section five of the draft code addresses areas like privacy of data, what public body would regulate CCTV, how CCTV images will be handled, and whether the CCTV code of practice would be compatible with Cayman’s yet-to-be-released Data Protection Bill.
“Section five as a whole gives rise to a concern regarding the time line between the use of a public CCTV system and the implementation of the binding legislation,” the commission stated in a letter sent to Mr. Bush in August.
Mr. Bush said, in his view, there should probably be a CCTV Law enacted, but he said any such legislation would obviously not be complete by the time the cameras begin working.
“The HRC expresses grave concern with hastening to being using the public CCTV system…prior to the implementation of the binding CCTV legislation and the fact that the draft Disclosure of Confidential Information (Regulation) Law does not cover data protection related to CCTV in any form.”