Editorial for February 23: CCTV project still needs work

We agree with comments made by the Human Rights Commission in an article on the front of today’s Caymanian Compass.

Government should not proceed with installing closed-circuit television cameras in public places until it has adopted the proper legislation and regulations outlining how those cameras and the subsequent images caught on them can and should be used.

The cameras are supposed to start going up at the end of next month and the entire process should be complete by the end of June.

It is expected that as soon as the cameras go up, they’ll start working.

We do applaud government’s desire to tackle the growing problem of crime on Grand Cayman and using closed-circuit television cameras may be one of the approaches that needs to be adopted.

But if anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing right and the HRC doesn’t seem to be convinced about the “rightness” of the government’s efforts thus far.

Surely, whatever law it is handled under, there should be some over-arching legislation covering CCTV in addition to a code of practice for operating the devices.

It may be that court evidence obtained from the cameras in the public rights of way can still be used, as camera evidence from private properties is used now.

But what if there are allegations of improper use, particularly if the public area cameras are used on private properties without the consent of the owner. What recourse does a member of the public have to address this situation?

Another issue is whether the code of practice being drawn up for CCTV will be made public.

People in a democracy should know the rules under which they are governed.

If the closed-circuit television project has to be delayed a few months to make it legal and correct that’s fine with us.

It’s better than rushing headlong into a major public safety initiative and having it blow up in our faces.

1 COMMENT

  1. Good editorial comment, there is a clear lack of joined up thinking in this project.

    What is disturbing is the fact that this technolgy has been in operation in the UK for nearly 24 years now so just about all the bugs and legal issues have been tackled.

    It seems incredible that this contract, rather than using tried and tested experience, was handled by organisations that apparently have no prior experience in CCTV operation.

  2. Agree editorial comment hits the point. North Side CCTV is supposed to be operational. With legals lead, government (should) be legally correct. In this case and others, legal seem to be bringing up the rear. The UK is said to be the most closely monitored people in the world. With more CCTV deployed than in any other country. It would be hard to believe that someone did not ask the UK for legal best practice covering CCTV in public area. Matter of fact, as soon as it was mentioned in Cayman
    someone from the mother territory should have said; guys- this is he way it needs to be done, legal draft to follow. PS: no cost..

  3. Surely there has been enough trial and error experience with CCTV in North America, Europe etc to make the use of CCTV cameras effective here in Cayman.

    If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to be concerned about as the law presently stands. Technology exists to detect people with criminal records who use hats, glasses bears etc.

    Its a shame that some people here have sunk so low that they need to exist in a gang / criminal environment but if thats the way things are then the police need to be able to use hi-tech means to apprehend criminals. Its no use criticizing the police if they dont have the tools to do the job.

  4. What a naive outlook !

    Look at the case history of abuse, misuse and pure criminality within the power given to law-enforcement authorities in North America and Europe as you have referred to.

    Google the recent jailing of police officers for criminal use of their authority; I can give you one example of one jailed just recently in Britain for sexual abuse and rape of a vulnerable female victim for whom he had been investigation a case.

    Now see the human rights laws in Europe and North America that do not yet exist in Cayman…

    Then see the potential threat to Caymans citizens privacy by unlawful use of this CCTV data by the law-enforcement personnell, themselves.

    A veteran police officer (a sergeant, nonetheless) in Cayman was convicted 2009 of using surveillance equipment in spying on a female victim with whom he wanted a relationship…

    If you need an example from Cayman.