Where is the Christmas spirit? As Scrooge is caught on CCTV stealing Xmas tree and presents

December 8, 2009

Ok, it’s early December, perhaps too early for any Christmas spirit and good cheer you might think? Well you’d be right, certainly this thief was in no mood for any festive goodwill when he helped himself to a tree and presents at a garden centre over the weekend.

This is the moment that unemployed Michael Brown was caught on CCTV taking the Christmas tree and toys from a  Santa’s grotto in Denbigh, North Wales. He can be seen below on CCTV firstly hiding and then taking the items away.

The thief steels the Xmas tree and presents

The images demonstrate what a good CCTV system can do in order to fight crime. Other images from the CCTV clearly show the face of the thief enabling conclusive identification to be made. However, many CCTV systems do not provide high quality video with which to make identification possible which is why the CCTV industry needs standards. CCTV systems must also be well designed and planned so that they can provide the most damning evidence.

Later Brown is picked up on another camera making his getaway as he drags the tree and presents behind him like some anti-Santa. Unfortunately for Brown the tree he was dragging away with him left a trail of tinsel that led directly to his arrest later by police.  Brown, from Greenfield, Flintshire, North Wales, was ordered to pay a £65 fine, £100 costs and compensation of £91 at Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court.

The thief drags the tree and presents away

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Secret CCTV cameras INSIDE people’s homes – a step too far?

November 19, 2009

Croydon council in south London has taken the step of trialing CCTV surveillance in people home’s to monitor anti-social behaviour.

The £1,000 security cameras have been installed inside private properties but are monitoring the streets to gather evidence of anti-social behaviour.

This type of CCTV would be less expensive than erecting external street cameras because internal cameras are much cheaper and no complex install or street furniture would be required. So the council is obviously saving money.  Each camera is linked to a laptop computer and accessible online by police and council officials 24 hours a day.  The big question for me is how solutions like these can be legal without the signage required to alert the public that they are being filmed?

The trial that is taking place inside two homes in Croydon,  south London has sparked new fears about the invasion of privacy in Britain today and the growth of what has become known as the  ‘surveillance society’. Many commentators have argued that there are too many CCTV cameras today and that Britain is beginning to resemble George Orwell’s novel 1984 where the state had a controlling influence over the populace.

So how do you feel about this?

Are there too many CCTV cameras today?

Do you think they help fight crime?

Have you been a victim of crime where CCTV has not helped or where it has lead to a prosecution or the return of stolen items?



The CCTV industry should put its house in order

November 18, 2009

When editor of Security Installer, Alan Hyder, criticised a report that concluded there was no link between crime solving and CCTV it sparked responses from police representatives who criticised current CCTV practices. Now, Mike Tolley, Principal Consultant at Cogent (fm) Solutions, has joined the debate. He says he is “someone who cares about what he does and the industry he is in” and concludes that too often CCTV is sold like double glazing …

I read with interest the articles about CCTV in last month’s edition. I have to agree with the majority of comments from Norman Gibson (independent consultant and retired RUC sergeant) that CCTV is “only one tool in the box”.

I often refer to CCTV as a management tool with security a part of its use. The type and placement of cameras should always be chosen to meet the need – not finding the easiest place to install it. My most valuable lesson on specifying and evaluating CCTV was probably learned whilst working in the manned guarding industry, where the CCTV system is a very important part of their tool box. I deplore this ‘cost of guarding’ Vs the ‘cost of a remotely monitored CCTV system’ argument as a justification to buy CCTV, i.e., just because it’s cheaper.

The best camera in the world will never outweigh a good guarding service. But it’s also about balance, and, as many others do, I refer to the Home Office operational requirement document. If end users only took an hour to complete it whilst assessing their needs, it would answer many questions without them being hoodwinked by the guy who sells CCTV instead of double glazing because it’s an easier sell.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know what you think below.

For more comment and insight about CCTV  click here to read CCTV articles.


CCTV video released of fatal cash machine raid

November 17, 2009

CCTV footage has been released of the moment that raiders broke into a supermarket to get at cash inside a cash machine.

Minutes later one of the raiders can clearly be seen using an angle grinder to get at the cash. Although alerted that a robbery was taking place police arrived too late to stop the raiders getting away.

In this instance Intelligent Video Analytics could have helped raise the alarm much sooner.  By constructing invisible trip wires in the video security personnel or police could have been warned the moment the raiders entered the store. In this way  Intelligent Video Analytics linked to a flexible open management platform could have helped the CCTV become more proactive.

The break in happened in the town of Driel, Netherlands but the raid ended in tragedy for the robbers when a traffic accident was reported in nearby Maarsbergen. When police arrived at the scene they found five men in the car, which also contained a substantial amount of cash covered in security dye. The men who are all British were taken to hospital where 3 have since died of injuries received.

To view more instances of CCTV in action click here.


Does CCTV make you feel safer?

November 9, 2009

A new study from the University of Hertfordshire appears to undermine one of the key justifications for Britain’s network of 4.2 million surveillance cameras: that they provide reassurance to the public.

The study also finds that people are no more fearful of crossing a street with a young male skinhead in it than they are with a smartly dressed woman present, unless, a CCTV camera is overhead.

120 participants – shoppers in Hatfield – were presented with pictures of a fictional town centre street scene. When the scene contained both a skinhead and a CCTV camera, the participants, aged between 18 to 70 years, reported raised concern about walking in the scene, compared with when the same scene was either empty, contained a woman with or without a CCTV camera, or a skinhead without a camera. In other words, it was specifically the combination of a skinhead and CCTV that provoked fear – neither had any effect on their own.

Having read the research findings I disagree.

The  study says more about our association of CCTV cameras with crime and their use as a deterrent for crime than it does about CCTV cameras not reassuring the public.

Initially looking at an urban street scene the study subjects think – this is a place I have never been to before but it looks ok. When a CCTV camera is added the perception of the neighborhood changes and subjects think – hold on the CCTV cameras must be there for a reason. Then when their fears are confirmed by the addition of a perceived negative image (the skinhead) that creates a potentially threatening situation, so we cannot be surprised with the findings of this research.

You could achieve the same results as this study by showing a group of people a picture of a castle (for example) in daylight, then showing them a picture of a castle at night. In daylight the castle is an interesting historical building that the subjects might want to visit. Show them the same scene at night and it produces an entirely different effect. Most people are frightened and wouldn’t want to go there.

The study shows nothing about how people feel about CCTV all it proves is that the majority of people in the study associate CCTV cameras with crime,  the more dangerous parts of town and the fight against crime.

To read the research paper click below

The relationship between antisocial stereotypes and public CCTV systems: exploring fear of crime in the modern surveillance society

To discuss this study visit the CCTV group on linkedin SIGN UP TO JOIN HERE. Or add a comment below.

Study Abstract

Situational crime deterrence measures like CCTV are not always associated with reductions in fear of crime. This study explores this unexpected finding by investigating the interaction between target type and the presence of a CCTV camera, in order to test the effect this has on impressions of the target and corresponding fear of the location the target was shown in. Participants (n=120) were shown either a picture of a male ‘skinhead’, a ‘studious’ female, or no one within an urban setting in which an obvious CCTV camera was either present or absent. Participants then rated the scene using scales estimating crime frequency, worry and target activity. Estimates of location safety fell for the male ‘skinhead’ target and activity impressions were more negative, but only when a CCTV camera was also present. Ironically, in some circumstances, public crime deterrence measures may prime pre-existing negative stereotypes about others and so foster suspicion, undermine trust in others, and increase fear of crime.


CCTV video of warehouse accident demonstrates importance of Health and Safety

November 6, 2009

Much has been discussed about the wider merits of CCTV and how it can reduce crime and make people feel safer but a topic that is often over looked is how CCTV can help with health and safety.

It is sometimes a shock to find staff carrying out tasks that completely go against the training, regulations and processes that have been put in place. CCTV if well monitored can therefore be highly important in preventing the occurrence of accidents. Also if employees having received training and been made aware of regulations are involved in an accident, CCTV is a tool that can be used to help clear your company of blame and potential legal action that might follow.

The video below filmed at a warehouse in Russia shows a major health and safety incident occurring. Fortunately no one was badly injured, but five million roubles (£105,000) worth of alcohol was destroyed in the accident, according to the website that posted the video, scandalim.ru.

If resource for live monitoring is not available technologies such as Video Analysis (Video Analytics / Smart CCTV) can help. When using an open management platform such as Cware, Video Analysis from IP cameras, analogue (analog) cameras or codecs can be easily integrated into the CCTV system. Video Analysis continuously checks for activity, events or behaviours that might be considered suspicious against user-defined policies. When activity is detected the system will classify the objects of interest (people, vehicle etc.), track and identify the direction of moving objects, interpret what the objects are doing and determine if a customer-defined policy has been broken. Once a policy is broken, for instance an intruder climbing over a perimeter fence or a vehicle parking in a forbidden zone, a wide variety of automatic countermeasures can be taken. PTZ cameras can automatically zoom in and track the object to get images of evidential quality, audible alarms can be broadcast to frighten away trespassers and emails or text messages can be sent to notify security personnel.

For more information about IP CCTV, the Cware management platform and Video Analysis click here.

Plus what do you think about CCTV? Is Britain becoming a Surveillance Society? Discuss here.