The effectiveness of CCTV is a long-debated question. Some studies highlight the benefits while others suggest it to be a waste of public money.

It was with great interest that I read a recent publication by Nottingham Trent University. This study sought to answer a question close to my heart, how valuable is CCTV as an Investigative tool?

One thing that has always been clear to me is that CCTV might not always prevent crime but it will help solve it. We have lots of customer examples of how it has. Not only is it useful when it has captured a crime but its extensively used to outline victim movement, corroborating witness statements or refuting suspect statements. Storyboarding the context around a crime is nearly as important as capturing the crime itself.

The study which was carried out by Nottingham Trent was based on information provided from British Transport Police who arguably have access to the greatest number of cameras in the UK, over 30,000 cameras! Information from over 250,000 cases (138 crimes per day) spanning from 2011-2016 were used. In every investigation performed by BTP, investigators had to answer two key questions. Firstly, whether CCTV was useful in solving the investigation or if not, why. The overall results show that CCTV was useful in 64.9% of crimes for which it was available. Although, CCTV was not available in over 54% of cases which was quite surprising given the camera coverage.

The authors note that CCTV is less likely to be requested in an investigation where the time at which the crime occurred is not known. The reason given is that viewing such a large volume of material would be unfeasible. The study also makes the point “if CCTV is made available to investigators then it is likely to be useful in a substantial proportion of cases.”

Have you guessed what I am going to say next?

Using video analytics technology events can be found automatically in video, making CCTV less onerous and more likely to be available. This more likely to be useful in solving crimes.

Kinesense post event video investigation platform is now in use by over 25 UK Police forces. It has been successfully used for over 6 years to help solve serious cases like murders, rapes and assault to volume crime cases like shoplifting. Time savings in general surveillance are 95%, in major investigations 60% and in volume crime 30-40%.

In one major investigation, over 170 hours from 15 different locations were collected. The video was viewed in 4 hours and 40 minutes. In this case, both victim and suspect movements were tracked. Over 30 instances of both were found and interesting the suspect was found in one video to be pursuing another potential victim which was key in highlighting their intent on the night in question.

The study is really interesting. For those of you in charge of investigation, maybe it’s time to start tracking key questions in relation to CCTV usefulness?

If you are interested in discussing the benefits of post event analysis of CCTV , please reach out.

To review the complete study from Nottingham Trent, see https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10610-017-9341-6