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By Zanele Mbengo

Journalist


Cameras ‘don’t deter criminals’ – experts

Experts stress CCTV efficacy relies on immediate response teams; installation without enforcement renders it ineffective.


It doesn’t help to install CCTV cameras at Small Street in Johannesburg if it isn’t linked to an immediate response team on the ground, experts say.

Crime analyst Chris de Kock said cameras were good technology to have for prevention and for detection, “but it doesn’t help to put up cameras and think people will be afraid of cameras.

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“People are not afraid of cameras. They will only be afraid of cameras if they know that if they do something wrong, the possibility is very high they may be arrested on the spot,” he said.

“There must be people in control rooms watching these cameras and communicating to police. There must be ground troops in civilian clothes who get communication from the control room.”

On Tuesday night, the Gauteng government started the installation of CCTV cameras in Small Street as part of its ongoing efforts to combat crime.

Speaking at the launch, Gauteng MEC of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, e-government research and development, Mzikayifani Khumalo, said 15 installed cameras are linked to the command centre in Commissioner Street.

Khumalo said Small Street had been a concern for the provincial government because crime was a constant problem on this pedestrian-only road.

“When the decision was made to introduce CCTV cameras, we thought we should prioritise Small Street. If you look at scenes that go viral on social media, you will see a person being mugged and nobody helps. People just pass by,” he said.

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“We were concerned that Small Street is not the street of yesteryear. We came to the conclusion that part of the problem is crime. If you talk to people there, they will tell you they are facing crime.”

Guy Lamb, a criminologist with the department of political science at Stellenbosch University, said CCTV is generally a positive intervention, but it’s costly.

Lamb said if it wasn’t backed up with effective responses, then it was a waste of money. He added that unlike Cape Town, Johannesburg lacked in certain departments concerning CCTV cameras.

“What’s been effective within the City of Cape Town is the CCTV systems are linked to licence plate recognition technology. They scan licence plates of vehicles entering and exiting a zone,” he said.

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