Misbehaving on streets of Cape Town? Hi-Tech safety patrols can now capture every move

2016-07-19 14:09
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Cape Town - The streets of Cape Town have just become safer as the Cape Town Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) is set to take a six-month pilot project around body-worn video (BWV) devices full throttle.

A good move, when you consider how the city's CBD has grown in popularity. South African Tourism visitor figures for 2015 shows that Cape Town's CBD received 883 000 tourists overall, about 109 000 more tourists when compared to 2014's 774 000 tourists, which was much lower than the tourists numbers in 2013 at 817 000.   

The city says the nine-officer trial, launched just before the 2015 festive season, has exceeded all expectation and it will be rolled out to the entire security staff.

Some 75 BWVs have already been purchased for CCID's public safety officer– enough to cover a full shift rotation, says the city. The rest of the  roll-out will take place over the next two month, including training for  the new technology.

Muneeb Hendricks, CCID Safety and Security Manager says, “BWV cameras are cutting edge technology for law enforcement services globally and their aim, in a nutshell, is to keep everyone on the side of the law, honest and well-behaved. It’s about both behaviour modification and accountability.

“The BWV cameras are as effective at improving service delivery by our public safety officers as they are at reducing public crime and violence levels in areas where they are deployed, because everybody’s actions are recorded.

“From the CCID’s point of view, we want to render the highest quality, efficient service that applies all laws and regulations equally and takes the guess-work out of incident reporting.”

The BWVs that the CCID public safety officers will use are designed for round-the-clock deployment because they are equipped with infrared recording capabilities for after dark, laser guides to indicate where the cameras are pointing and the ability to record video, sound and rapid multiple still images.

“Cameras are most effective as an immediate behaviour modification tool. If people know they’re being recorded they’re unlikely to escalate to violence in a potentially volatile situation. This applies to both the public and the officers themselves.

Hendricks says a particularly important aspect of the BWV deployment is to ensure that the rights of the public are protected.

“The use of BWVs has substantially reduced the number of investigations conducted when we receive complaints against our PSOs. We have always, and will continue to, investigate every complaint we receive, but cameras take the ‘he said, she said’ aspect out of the equation and we’ve been able to resolve cases far more quickly.

“They have been particularly effective in resolving ‘stop and search’ complaints against our own as well as our Law Enforcement Officer partners at the City when allegations have been made that money or personal possessions have been taken, as well as complaints that our own public safety officers have in any way acted in an untoward manner and possibly even illegal manner.”

“The Cape Town CCID is leading the international best-practice charge in South Africa in terms of safeguarding all members of the public in our footprint and ensuring that their rights are protected when they interact with our public safety officials.

“Ultimately this will make the streets of Cape Town’s CBD safer for everyone.”

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