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Solving the multi-billion rand problem
February 2017, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Access Control & Identity Management, Security Services & Risk Management, Products

The backlog in claims against the South African police force in 2014/2015 is a multi-billion rand problem. According to SA Crime Quarterly “The South African Police Service (SAPS) has in recent years reported a substantial annual increase in civil claims filed for damages as a result of actions or omissions by its officials, and an even larger increase in claims pending. The 2014/15 SAPS annual report showed that pending claims stood at over R26 billion, which is equivalent to over a third of the SAPS budget.”1

The proliferation of mobile cameras exacerbates an already serious problem and adds to the growing list of issues law enforcement heads need to overcome. That said, it has never been easier to cherry-pick footage to suit the complainant’s narrative and it almost never goes the way of the law enforcer if he has no counter evidence. It's a costly, complex task assessing the reality when footage points one plausible way and word of mouth points another way.

This is where the body worn cameras comes in. Whether it's for elite special security forces, law enforcement officers – the list goes on – there is now a technology that tells the whole story and gives clearer perspective. Global manufacturers such as Kedacom go as far as to allow command to tap into the live stream, communicate in real time and collect valuable data from multiple individuals in real time to avert disaster.

The Marikana tragedy and contagious accountability

In hindsight, a more empowered command could have been better placed to deal with tragic, expensive, and socially detrimental situations. When we look at the Marikana tragedy, the dragging of Mido Macia behind the police vehicle and the billions of rands worth of claims, there is the need for multiple solutions to be put on the table.

The body-worn camera is one such solution on the table. At first glance it seems easy to dismiss the body cam as a minor dent in the problem and look for 'deeper solutions', but consider the evidence in a recent article. The Economist published an article after extensive research was done by the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe, a think tank, as well as police officers2.

“Over the course of a year, almost 2000 officers in four forces in Britain and two in America were randomly given cameras. Compared with the previous year, the number of complaints brought against them dropped by a striking 93%. Strikingly, complaints also fell when officers were wearing the cameras, an effect the authors call 'contagious accountability'. They believe the drop was caused by a reduction in bogus complaints as well as reduction in police misconduct.”3

Coming back to South Africa – granted, we are a unique country, but the evidence speaks for itself. The list of benefits is long. It deters perpetrators who know they are being recorded, it gives the judiciary clearer evidence than word of mouth, it exonerates law enforcers that are doing the right thing and it allows for better perspective and decision making. It gives command the tools and resources to better manage protests, reduce the public's urge to bribe officers and the list of contagious accountability benefits go on and on.

A pocket size solution that makes a national difference

The applications for body worn cameras are numerous and their contribution to more favourable outcomes for law enforcers is clear. However, there are several questions from durability to the level of 'tamper proofing'.

Speaking at the Kedacom launch, Wong Fang offered some insight into the technology and the company. He brought to light the fact that Kedacom has a 1500-plus strong research and development team constantly developing various security technologies and solutions.

When looking specifically at the company’s body worn camera, it is a technological marvel. It is water and dust proof, takes 13 megapixel snapshots and records video at 3 MP. There is a touch screen for easy control. To prevent it from getting lost or stolen, the camera has GPS tracking. Moreover, recorded footage cannot be deleted.

The cameras have a multi-device docking station available. This allows users to slot the devices into the docking station after a shift, where it will charge and the on-board data will be downloaded. If required, each user can be issued with a PIN, which is entered to either release the device at the start of a shift, or book it back in at the end of the shift.

Kedacom spent the last week of November 2016 talking to the market leaders in South Africa in a weeklong demonstration of the range of products that are now on the South African market. The excitement at the event was clear to see and there are plans to demonstrate and deploy the technology locally.

Now available in South Africa

The Kedacom range is now officially available in South Africa from select distributors such as Eurobyte Technology. The body-worn cameras, mobile cameras, mobile NVR, VMSs and more are either already available or will soon be available for the South African market.

This technology has the power to make a big contribution to changing the South African narrative for the better. With a backlog of R26 billion in claims against policing in 2014/2015 alone, it makes sense. There are very clear financial benefits, but fundamentally the greatest benefit is a more respectful society and the police force walking hand in hand building a better nation.

For more information contact Eurobyte Technology, Roberto Vizcarra, +27 (0)11 234 0142, roberto@eurobyte.co.za or Neal Thomas, (0)21 551 2804, neal@eurobyte.co.za

References:

(1.) SA crime q.  n.54 Pretoria Dec. 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sacq.v54il3 

Making sense of the numbers: Civil claims against the SAPS

http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1991-38772015000400004

Note: Total claims are not necessarily all related to police conduct alone, these may stem from other claims as well.

(2.) The Long Lens of the Law

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21709024-fitting-officers-cameras-good-public-and-police-alike-long-lens?fsrc=scn/fb/te/pe/ed/thelonglensofthelaw

(3.) Cambridge research project. Contagious Accountability

http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/09/21/0093854816668218.abstract


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