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The future for Forensic Surveillance?

An exclusive report by
Doktor Jon
Dateline July 25th 2005 - London, England

As part of the massive investigation following the terrorist attacks on London, the Metropolitan Police Service issued a number of CCTV images showing the failed bombers, in a desperate attempt to identify and apprehend the suspects, before they can strike again.

Much has been said about the undoubted benefit of using CCTV images, to help identify the key suspects as quickly as possible. And yet, almost three weeks after the first devastating attacks, there has been no mention of the vital need for all CCTV system operators to review their operating procedures, and ensure that their installations are in 'tip top' condition.

Whilst Doktor Jon has posted some urgent advice for CCTV operators, the press and media continue to concentrate on the gathering of evidence, and little is mentioned about possible future requirements.

Without exception, all of the images released as part of the investigation could so easily have yielded technically superior Evidential Quality Recordings, if only the cameras had been correctly configured for this vital role.

It is fair to say that those images released do demonstrate a significant improvement over previous offerings, and yet it's not unreasonable to assume that if these are indeed the best available, what could the others have been like? At the moment, capturing suspects on CCTV is still something of a lottery, when in fact surveillance cameras should be producing "winning shots" in at least 85% of situations.

Does it cost more to achieve quality recordings?; well given the widescale investment in 'state of the art' CCTV systems, the answer should be no! If a camera is placed in an ideal location with the correct lens fitted, and all adjustments optimised for the ambient conditions, then rapid identification from clear quality images, should usually be assured.

Whilst the very short range images from bus cameras have provided the cleanest pictures so far (apart of course, from the devastated No. 30 bus where the CCTV was not working), what can be done to rapidly improve the pictures from existing surveillance cameras?. Well apart from the obvious need for an urgent review by all responsible CCTV system operators, there is one key factor which has so far been overlooked.

For very many years now, Doktor Jon has highlighted the need for an independent "Public Surveillance Inspectorate", a body specifically set up to regulate and inspect the implementation of all public area CCTV systems, ensuring that 'best practice' is adopted in the installation and operation of all cameras, being used for monitoring and recording individuals.

Given recent tragic events, and the glaringly obvious shortcomings in existing CCTV effectiveness, commentators may eventually regard July 2005 as being the watershed, when it comes to accepting second best in the vital role of Forensic Surveillance.

<< 1st CCTV image of the London Bombers - could it have been improved?
<< Doktor Jon comments on CCTV and the London bombings
<< The shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes
<< Anti terrorism advice for CCTV system operators
CCTV and the London Bombings - One year on ...>>

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