The police cannot be everywhere, CCTV can

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Further to an article in last week’s Examiner, I would concur that there is no substitute for having a police officer on the beat, but the argument between this stance and CCTV is fundamentally flawed from the outset by even deliberating the comparison in the first place.

Firstly, the police officer is an individual not a piece of ‘kit’ designed as a tool in the armoury of the prevention and detection of crime. The police officer is an expensive item to create, involving selection, training and mentoring processes even before he makes his solo debut on the streets and gains his individual experience as ‘their taker and evidence collator’

I would suspect that a normal recruiting intake would involve about six to 12 recruits, so therefore we have to multiply the expense by that amount. Even then there is not guarantee that the establishment of officers desired can be presented taking into account sickness, annual leave, training courses, premature resignations and unforeseen retirements, etc.

In an ideal world, it would be a wonderful thing to have a police officer on every street corner 24/7 standing and observing the environment and ‘people watching’ – something a camera does in any event. The reality is that a police officer has a beat to cover and, irrespective of how consciously the officer works his patch, there are culprits who will monitor his movements and commit offences when they feel it safe for them to do so.

Moreover, the officer has to be ‘fed and watered’ during the course of his patrol, removing him for this period, notwithstanding his involvement in incidents emanating, which can in itself impact on his presence by the subsequent and protracted documentation that bureaucracy sometimes decrees has to be produced.

Ideally another officer should cover his area but, alas, sometimes policing is not like playing football – there are no facilities for substituting a player, but failing this, a camera is not a bad one and is certainly better than nothing. In addition, cameras do not have to be paid extra for working nights, weekends or bank holidays.

As for allegations of the public being spied upon, as illustrated by your contributor by the monitoring of somebody kissing someone else’s wife or husband, clearly your contributor has no concept of the provisions of The Data Protection Act in this regard and the safeguards pertaining thereto.

As a former police officer myself, and one from the ‘old brigade’ who, on night duty, shook hands with shop door handles, it was surprising what you discovered in shop doorways and adjacent lanes sometimes, and it was a little bit more than kissing, but I sure the participants did not consider that because of my presence they were being spied upon.

In analysing recent advents on the adjacent isle, where would the investigation teams be without the evidence CCTV has produced? The matter speaks for itself.

Having also once worked as CCTV operator for a major retail store on the island who had invested considerably in their system, whether we like it or not, CCTV does have a constructive part to play in the prevention and detection of crime, as especially as a tool of evidence corroboration. As the PM recently said across: ‘Let’s dispense with phony human rights issues!’

As for the political implications of who should finance the CCTV does not the Isle of Man Government have a cash fund, its existence having come about through the confiscation of the proceeds of crime?

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