There's conventional Town Centre CCTV ...
... and then there's an alternative.
Doktor Jon
Outlines the
Safety Net ©

approach to providing affordable community based
Closed Circuit TV (CCTV)

So would you like to play "Spot the CCTV Camera?". Eagle eyed visitors may recognise the profusion of street furniture, surrounding a single heritage dome camera keeping watch over part  of Londons' prestigious Oxford Street shopping area.

Doktor Jon does his bit to help
the Police with their enquiries

"Safety Net"
© in the community
Using CCTV to tackle 'Distraction Burglaries'

One of the more cowardly and unpleasant low level crimes, which is aimed squarely at the most vulnerable members of a community, are thefts from the home where a deliberate distraction is used to gain entry.

Burglary artifice or "Distraction Burglary" is now a very common practice in some areas, and whilst the victims are almost always elderly or vulnerable, it can be a particularly difficult crime to deal with, and the repercussions can also in some cases prove tragic.

One obvious technique to consider, might be to use a "Safety Net" approach, to create a defined deterent zone, within which CCTV is deployed on a large scale to address the risk. Now before you start thinking telephone numbers in terms of funding, this need not be the case.

First off, the sceme should cover a well defined and easily recognisable area, which may be a housing estate, a council ward, a police sub division or perhaps a village. It's deployment will be based squarely on a multi partner approach, with each having a defined role which contributes towards the overall success of the scheme.
Suggested partners might be the Police, Local Authority, Local Press and Media, Victim Support, one or more commercial sponsors (e.g. supermarket, chemist shop, printer, local chamber of commerce) local electrical contractors, 'Help the Aged' or volunteers ... you hopefully get the picture (pun not intended!)

Now the idea is that the scheme will be identified by a specific title, and the window stickers, leaflets and street lamp posters will all carry the schemes recognisable ident, for example, the "Church Estate - 'Don't be Distracted' scheme - We're looking out for each other using CCTV".

As it is a problem which invariably is aimed at the occupants of residential properties, the initial objective would be to deter the crime in the first place, and for that you need to consider 'providing' free issue domestic or low cost semi commercial CCTV cameras, to the most vulnerable in the community. Those who can afford to contribute, can make a small voluntary donation into the scheme which will obviously help to support the project.

Using Black and White domestic grade, "door viewer" or miniature cased CCTV cameras, it is likely that the unit cost for a small quantity (> 50 units) may be in the region of perhaps £ 20 - 25.00 (very rough guide) per camera. In a situation where a large number of properties are to benefit from the scheme, cameras can easily be sourced from a reputable far eastern manufacturer, with the unit cost then being further reduced, and possibly with the schemes logo overprinted on the cameras (you could always have some printed stickers made up for smaller batches).

Now using ready made cables, the cameras can be connected to the homeowners television as an electronic 'door viewer' on the A/V channel (with a little bit of extra wiring, it is also possible to have the TV change over to the door camera, when the doorbell is pressed or if a seperate movement sensor is triggered).

Where suspects are thought to be operating in a given area, it may be prudent to install a temporary DVR in perhaps every 10th - 20th home, (typically about £ 250 per unit) and so the deterrent effect of not knowing which cameras are being constantly recorded, comes into play. If funds are available, for perhaps an extra £ 75.00 it would be possible to connect the camera to the DVR using a wireless "Video Sender", so without the aid of cables to follow, it would be difficult for a possible offender to locate the hidden DVR. These video machines can of course be left to record unattended for long periods, so are ideal particularly where elderly residents are incapable of any 'hands on' involvement.

Ideally, the local police will provide the driving force for the scheme, with the local authority perhaps providing primer funding, and possibly council workers to install some of the cameras / signage. Local business sponsor/s could also benefit from the publicity, and the local press would carry regular reports and 'feel good' stories about the elderly residents sleeping safe in their beds at night etc. etc.
In theory with a small amount of funding, a fair degree of goodwill and a little bit of luck, it should be possible to set up a fairly expansive CCTV scheme quite quickly, and without the need for significant funding.

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