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
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
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
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.