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CCTVs at vantage locations:

Colombo comes under watchful eyes

The Colombo city will soon come under surveillance of the police with the installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras by the police now in its final stage.

According to Police spokesman Superintendent of Police Prishantha Jayakody the installation of 105 cameras at 28 locations in the city is at its final stage which will be commissioned shortly.

The Motorists driving along the streets of Colombo city and the public will come under surveillance of the Police.

"There would be a separate division to handle the CCTV system monitoring unit from the Police Headquarters", SP Jayakody added.

He said the intention is to monitor the traffic flow and other crime related activities in the city. It will trigger immediate action if there are traffic congestions or disturbances in the city.

However, there is no immediate plans to use the system to be used as evidence in courts.

Colombo will be the first city in the country to come under the camera which the Defence Ministry had initiatiated at a cost of around Rs. 300 million.

A team of Police officers headed by Senior DIG Gamini Navaratne was in Singapore in May and attended a week-long workshop to be conversant with the operational aspects of the CCTV system. According to DIG Navaratne, the network of cameras would be installed under the theme to create a safe city, a concept promoted under the Mahinda Chinthana.

Extensive research have revealed that CCTV is not as useful in the fight against crime as was previously thought, but may be more effective as a detection tool than a deterrent.

The recent research by experts after evaluating of 22 CCTV schemes in Britain and the US, found that while cameras could have a marked effect on reducing vehicle crime, there was little evidence that they prevented violent crime.

According to experts the most common usage of CCTV cameras is not crime prevention, but crime detection and prosecution. Several cases have been solved with the use of these cameras.

The cameras automatically transfer captured images on a time-lapse or motion detection basis to a PC or laptop using either a USB cable or a wireless adapter.

CCTV camera systems placed in convenience stores were shown to have decreased the number of thefts in stores by more than 50% in the first year of operation.

The United Kingdom has had more CCTV camera systems in place than any other country, in the would including the United States. Studies concerning their effectiveness have proven that crimes in areas like city centres, public housing, public transportation centres and car parks have decreased dramatically since installation.

CCTV camera systems are used all over the world in police investigations. In Canada, more than 70% of all bank robberies and other commercial crimes have been captured using CCTV camera systems.

CCTV was first utilized by the United States military in the 1940s. Closed circuit cameras were set up during the testing of the V2 missile in order to safely monitor the tests. By using CCTV, officials were able to monitor the testing at close range without danger, watching out for defects and other problems that might have otherwise gone undetected.

In the 1960s, officials in the UK began installing CCTV systems in public places to monitor crowds during rallies and appearances of public figures.

Installation of cameras became more popular, both in public spaces and retail stores, as the technology developed. Today in Britain, CCTV cameras monitor roads, sidewalks and squares in city centres, public rail stations and buses, as well as in retail shops and other businesses. In 1996, government spending on CCTV technology accounted for three quarters of the crime prevention budget in the UK.

In the United States, the first CCTV system set up in a public building was in 1969 in the New York City Municipal building. This practice quickly spread to other cities and was soon widely implemented.

Unlike the UK, CCTV in public spaces in the United States is rarely used. However, in the 1970s and 80s, CCTV use became more common in establishments prone to security threats, like banks, convenience stores, and gas stations.

Security cameras were installed in the World Trade Center as a preventative after the terrorist attack in 1993. By the mid-90s, ATMs across the country were commonly equipped with CCTV cameras, and many retail stores used CCTV to prevent theft.

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