Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Letter of the Day | Has CCTV link-up made a difference?

Published:Monday | March 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

While the Ministry of National Security must be commended for staging such a powerful public relations event surrounding JamaicaEye, the simple fact is that CCTV systems have been around in Jamaica for over a decade.

The Mandeville system, which was the product of a public-private partnership between the Ministry of National Security and the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, was established in 2007-2008. The system in May Pen was established about the same time.

The Montego Bay system was launched, somewhat quietly, in 2013 by then Minister of National Security Peter Bunting. That system, which had more than 20 cameras across the town of Montego Bay, was established at a cost of $55 million. The system in Ocho Rios was a major step-up on the Montego Bay system and was the product of public-private partnership. At the time of the launch, the system had more than 30 cameras and involved an investment of about $107m.

A system was also established in Negril.

So the issue that faces law enforcement with respect to CCTV is not the absence of data-collection modalities and methods but the use of the data collected. Investigative journalists need to inquire of the police concerning the usefulness of the data from the systems in all the locations I have mentioned, as well as seek to ascertain how these systems have aided in solving or preventing crime. The police should be urged to disclose its data analytics protocols, using CCTV. Such a disclosure will not compromise effective policing tactics, rather it will strengthen deterrence.

If the police were up to the game, they should have provided data to the media showing the number of arrests that were made based on CCTV data, as well as the number of convictions secured, also using CCTV data.

The public should be in possession of baseline data on criminal activities, such as pickpockets in Mandeville market - a prime pickpocket location - and then comparative data showing trends in reported cases of pickpocketing before and after CCTV-related arrests or other interventions related to the use of CCTV data.

I urge the Ministry of National Security, and the new police commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, to focus on results and use PR only to seek to improve results, rather than using PR to create hype.

CANUTE THOMPSON

Former Consultant, Ministry of National Security