Strathclyde Police get it all on tape

May 2000 IT infrastructure

Following a report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, Strathclyde Police in Scotland have started to implement constant video and audio monitoring to cover the prisoner charging area.

Assistant Chief Constable Colin McKerracher, Strathclyde Police in Scotland
Assistant Chief Constable Colin McKerracher, Strathclyde Police in Scotland

The key objectives of the installations are to enhance the security of staff and property, as well as offering improved safeguards for police officers, detainees and others who have responsibilities within the custody area. Assistant Chief Constable Colin McKerracher declared, "To safeguard the rights of public and police alike, a quality and reliable record of events which will withstand critical and informed examination, is of paramount importance". In order to achieve this, the system must provide the highest quality of audio and video taped evidence.

Realtime video and audio monitoring

The charge desk area is recorded in realtime using the NEAL video and audio monitoring equipment providing a 24 h continuous log of recordings. Unlike lapse time, realtime recording offers a complete and impartial account of all events in the custody area, thus removing any opportunity for false allegations to be made successfully.

The clarity of hi-fi quality audio sound on video transports ensures that charge procedures are strictly adhered to, subsequently preventing disputes. Two colour cameras give sufficient detail to differentiate between bank notes, etc. Monitors can be also seen by offenders when being charged. It has been proven that prisoners tend to behave in a more appropriate manner when they see themselves on screen.

In order to guarantee the total protection of police officers and suspects, every movement within corridors, holding areas and access doors is monitored by a second recording unit associated to a high-speed multiplexer and eight colour cameras.

An overlap between video tapes ensures uninterrupted recording. The next cassette automatically starts in a cascade effect two minutes before the end of the previous cassette. This to ensure that no valuable information can be lost.

Authenticity?

For complete authenticity, the NEAL custody recording units burn into the video image the full time and date as visual characters. The time and date is also fully synchronised to the VITC (vertical interval time code) signal which identifies each video frame every 0,04 s. A programmable identification number is also burnt into screen. This can be used to verify the precise location of where the recordings were made. The result - what has occurred, where and when - ensures the possibility of allegations is reduced to the absolute minimum.

McKerracher concluded, "Within Strathclyde Police, the unique design and mode of operation of the CCTV equipment - in combination with the adoption of strict CCTV - management procedures achieves its objectives."

The NEAL video and audio monitoring units installed in Scotland
The NEAL video and audio monitoring units installed in Scotland

For details contact Olivier Diesnis on tel: (0944) 191 418 1000, fax: (0944) 191 418 1001 or e-mail: od@canford.co.uk





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