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CCTVs in city points to combat crime

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16th-Feb-2017       
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THE government will install 5,000 closed-circuit television cameras and a CCTV control room to bolster security in the Dhaka North City Corporation wards. The CCTV cameras would be set up at 1516 locations of the DNCC under a project worth Tk 442.14 crore.

The project was approved on Tuesday by the Executive Committee on National Economic Council (ECNEC) at the Planning Commission with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. The government will provide Tk 353 crore from the exchequer while the rest will come from the DNCC. Several thousand control units will also be installed for light-emitting diode fittings in the DNCC.

Following the meeting, Planning Minister AHN Mustafa Kamal told reporters that the people living in the DNCC would come under the new security system after completion of the project in December 2018.

A control room and data storage centers would also be installed under the project so that the authorities concerned could take action quickly in case any violation occurred, he said.

The United Kingdom is one of the most enthusiastic proponents of CCTVs, with an estimated 1.9 million cameras in 2011 - one for every 32 U.K. residents - and the number continues to rise. But what were the results? A meta-analysis examined 93 studies on surveillance systems to see how effective they are at reducing crime and deemed 44 to be sufficiently rigorous for inclusion. Many of the studies were based in the United Kingdom, while others were in US cities such as Cincinnati and New York.

The analysis found that surveillance systems were most effective in parking lots, where their use resulted in a 51 percent decrease in crime. Systems in other public settings had some effect on crime - a 7 percent decrease in city centers and in public housing communities, and a 23 percent drop in public transit systems - but the results weren't statistically significant. When sorted by country, systems in the United Kingdom accounted for the majority of the decrease; the drop in other countries was insignificant.

In the US it's a different story. A 2013 Chicago Tribune opinion piece quoted a city spokesman as saying that surveillance cameras helped solve 4,500 crimes over four years, but the writer notes that more than a million are estimated to have taken place over that time period - meaning that the cameras' contribution was 0.05 percent at best. In other words except in the UK its final applicability remains either slightly positive at best, or ambiguous.

In our country so many CCTVs would require constant monitoring to prevent their disuse and specially trained personnel to figure out whether crimes were occurring by constant monitoring. Are such situations likely to happen? It seems unlikely and overall a simple waste of public expenditure which could be put to better use.


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