Home CCTV 'could aid the fight against crime'

Home CCTV 'could aid the fight against crime'
By Tony Earnshaw
Local Democracy Reporter

THE public could do their bit in fighting crime by signing up to a voluntary database offering CCTV footage to help catch miscreants.

The suggestion came as Kirklees Council looks set to merge its 24-hour CCTV – which monitors public open spaces – and its direct out-of-hours service, which takes requests for emergency repairs and noise nuisance calls, among other things.

Combining the two services will save £53,000 a year.

Will Acornley, head of operational services for the council, said he hoped the change would happen by the summer. 

There was a suggestion from Dewsbury South councillor Gulfam Asif that the spike in domestic CCTV cameras could assist in the fight against crime.

He asked whether the council could encourage members of the public to join a voluntary database of CCTV camera owners whose footage might be made available in the event of a crime.

He said it could fill in areas where “blind spots” prevented the pursuit or identification of criminals who might otherwise be caught in the act.

Coun Asif asked: “Is there any way of collating this information, or having a list of people to sign up to so that we have a database of who has CCTV surrounding their properties?

“It might be that if that view is blocked with (criminals wearing) balaclavas, or they change into different clothes, then somebody might pick that up. So you’ve got a time of when the crime happened and a database exactly mapping it out as to where we can get that information.

“It’s not for somebody to knock on the door and ask, ‘Can I have footage of the last 24 hours?’ It’s a case of when something happens, someone’s going to pick it up – the same with dash cams.

“The public, without realising it, could be helping to solve a crime. Having that database of exactly where the hot spots are and where the crime happens (means) the public can actually do their bit.”

Mr Acornley advised that the police take the lead on such matters and GDPR prevented the council from asking for private CCTV footage.

He added that whilst the council can work with the police in “live tracking” criminals, that service does not link with domestic cameras.

The council is also looking at providing mobile camera systems to monitor fly-tipping hotspots in order to build the “burden of proof” against people who dump waste, with a view to taking them to court.

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