Cape Town to expand its CCTV camera system

The City of Cape Town’s Strategic Surveillance Unit has published the crime statistics captured by its CCTV cameras in the first half of 2020. The unit said that it detected nearly 6,200 incidents between January and June 2020. There was a slight drop in incidents in the second quarter, which coincided with the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. Suspected criminal acts accounted for 35.6% of all incidents detected, with 115 arrests ranging from possession of drugs and theft of motor vehicles to breaking and entering and robbery.

An analysis of the incidents showed that most were detected between the hours of 09h00 and 12h00 and 18h00 to 21h00. Wednesday and Friday emerged as the busiest days of the week in terms of incident detection. “This type of analysis plays a very useful role in helping to detect incident patterns, which in turn can help guide resource allocation and deployment,” said the city’s mayoral committee member for Safety and Security, JP Smith. “It is also a reminder to the public that criminals do not operate under the cover of darkness only, but that many are brazen enough to go about their business in broad daylight. It is therefore crucial to remain vigilant at all times.”

Smith said that CCTV is more than just a tool in the fight against crime and can also be used to detect potential traffic problems early enough to avoid unnecessary congestion or ensure that traffic is diverted quickly if need be. The cameras also detect fires, accidents and other matters that might require an emergency response. “There have been instances where the CCTV operator raises the alarm on behalf of someone who cannot seek help for themselves, because they’re too badly hurt or unconscious or shaken up to make the call,” Smith said.

“The footage recorded by our system can also be shared with SAPS for the purposes of their investigations, and offers an objective view into situations where there otherwise might not have been any evidence or information about how an incident unfolded.” Smith said that stringent measures are in place to ensure the chain of custody is preserved in the handing over of footage, so that it can pass muster in court.

The Metro Police Strategic Surveillance Unit oversees nearly 800 CCTV cameras across the metropole, excluding cameras monitoring the freeways and transport routes and interchanges. Plans are in place to further expand the system in the current financial year.