Crime is one of the most complex problems which every society in the world has to face. Several initiatives have been launched in an attempt to curb the crime scourge in South Africa. Such crime prevention strategies are conducted in either a proactive or reactive manner in which various role players are assigned to specific tasks. The police are viewed as reactive, while industries and the public at large have the responsibility to protect their own.
closed circuit television (CCTV) plays a valuable role in combating crime through a combination of both proactive and reactive crime prevention measures. A classic example of this is the use of CCTV as deterrence to all potential perpetrators, including staff, thus implying that they will be aware of the fact that their actions are recorded. On the reactive side, CCTV can assist the police in identifying the perpetrators and can also be utilised in various criminal justice procedures as evidence in a court to ensure fair and legal prosecution to all parties involved. However, the latter can only be accomplished if CCTV systems are accepted as a reliable source of evidence.
As active partners with the SAPS in crime prevention, the CGC Crime Prevention Programme has raised concern about the current quality of CCTV footage presented from the industry. According to legal experts, the quality thereof is not adequate enough to be accepted as a legitimate form of evidence in court.
Store owners spend immense amounts of money in acquiring inefficient CCTV systems; good systems are sometimes badly installed or not maintained. The evidential value of an incident is then rendered worthless as a result of ignorance in respect of the procedures when handling such evidence.
To assist in addressing this problem, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa’s Crime Prevention Programme (CPP) in cooperation with Business Against Crime (BAC) have released a white paper it hopes will act as a guide to all role players on how to effectively install, maintain and manage such CCTV systems in order to be compatible with SAPS analysis and forensic equipment.
The CGC says the document makes reference to technical specifications without using complicated jargon. The white paper clarifies the how, what and why of dealing with footage as evidence. In order to ensure the paper is as valid, reliable and accurate as possible, the CPP identified and consulted with several experts in the field of CCTV. These include amongst others, scientists in the field of development, accredited installers, maintenance experts as well as experts within the field of the criminal justice process.
To this end the white paper includes chapters on Operational Requirements Analysis, Technical Aspects, Installation and Management Aspects, Legal and Evidentiary Aspects, as well as recommended forms and checklists to assist businesses in ensuring their evidence collection is in line with legal requirements.
Anyone interested in the white paper can approach CGC Crime Prevention at 0861 101 726, or www.cgccrime.org.za.
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