CIG to buy higher quality CCTV kit

| 29/01/2015 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service

CCTV on Grand Cayman (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): Cabinet is now looking at investing in top of the line CCTV that can produce evidence-quality footage, even at night, for the police, the premier has said. Sympathizing with the fears people have about giving evidence on the record in gang-related crime, Alden McLaughlin said the current CCTV system could be upgraded to help gather evidence needed to put away killers without placing eyewitnesses in danger.

Speaking to the media after a police meeting in West Bay on Wednesday evening, during which the district commander and the police commissioner urged people to come forward and help them charge the shooters in the two latest killings, the premier said he understood the reluctance. “Who wants to volunteer to lose their life?” he asked, saying it was a very real possible consequence, as he acknowledged the problems surrounding witness protection.

The premier said he sympathized with the fears people have coming forward to give evidence to the police. The solution, he said, was to install higher-quality closed-circuit television cameras on the streets and more of them. “We are going to have to invest more in developing independent means to obtain the evidence to support convictions,” McLaughlin said.

With the escalation of gang violence over the last ten years, he said, it was more difficult than ever to find people willing to give evidence. The “intimidation factor” was working, he said as he pointed to the influence the killers have over the community’s silence.

McLaughlin said his government was now examining the possibility of upgrading the existing national CCTV network, but he warned that the top quality equipment the police want is very expensive. The premier admitted that because of cost constraints the original system, although extremely helpful, had weaknesses.

“One of the big problems we have identified is the ability to identify people, cars and licence plates at night,” he said. While police can use daytime footage to catch offenders, the quality of equipment was not necessarily good enough to use as evidence in court, especially at night.

Addressing the lack of willing witnesses, McLaughlin said the issue required a further significant investing in the high-tech equipment that can produce quality footage that can identify the shooters or licence plates.

“Government has only so much money and our challenge is how we spend those funds. The issue has been identified by the police and we are looking at costs to see what we can do to improve the system we have now,” he said. McLaughlin said that from the beginning, government was aware that it was not buying the best equipment on the market but that it could not afford more. However, explaining that the system can be upgraded, he said, “We don’t have to start again and we are looking at how much it will cost.”

“One thing we do know is the placement of the cameras is good and they do help. It is not that they are useless,” he added, but pointed out it was not evidential quality. “People are dismissive but it really does help the police,” he said, claiming that it could be even better.

Police Commissioner David Baines has said that there is CCTV footage that is helping with the investigation into the latest gang-related violence in West Bay, and that, contrary to the views of some that the cameras were badly placed or not working, they are all recording and the footage has been collected from all of the recent shootings in West Bay.

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Comments (22)

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  1. streetworker says:

    I think McKeeva Bush is now on the right path fighting violence by going right to the source and speaking directly to the gangs. Mediation is what is needed. Find out what is bothering them, what they want, what they feel they need and see if any of those “wants” can be accomplished. These are young men who are feeling lost and need someone to listen to them. They need redirection. They need to see and feel that they are being listened too even if the general population feels that their issues are small, they feel that their issues are major. IMO, I believe this is a step in the right direction!

  2. Anonymous says:

    For obvious reasons I’m going to have to post this anonymously but the company I work for, which has been in the CCTV business since the 1990s, considered tendering for this contract. We’re not based in the Cayman Islands but at the time it could have offered a useful extension to our business.

    What we discovered was the whole thing was ill-conceived and impractical. I seriously doubt that anyone who understood CCTV would have touched it.

    In many ways it looked like the requirements had been drawn up by people with absolutely no practical experience of CCTV. One example was the oft-repeated reference to ANPR, which we install for local authorities in the UK, but nobody had thought out how it could be implemented in the Cayman Islands. It just sounded like those involved thought ANPR was some magic device that you plugged in and switched on. We’ve since heard through trade sources that much of the final installation as specified was effectively obsolete before it was even switched on.

    Judging by some of the comments already posted I doubt it will ever happen but it looks to me like this contract needs to be seriously investigated before you put any more money into CCTV. That’s worth considering just for the fact that if the original installations were under-spec the original contractor might turn out to be liable for the costs of any remedial work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not surprising given the outlandish incompetence and money wasting practices of the ousted UDP government led by the Cayman Islands one and only infamous McKeeva Bush who thought a government credit card was a “magic device”.

      As you stated an investigation of the contract is “worth considering just for the fact that if the original installations were under-spec the original contractor might turn out to be liable for the costs of any remedial work.”

      I hope the Auditor General takes such an investigation on.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Keep spending good money after bad. These cameras are being supplied by a company that is not fulfilling the obligation of objectives. You can wear a suit and put on suspenders and talk the talk, but in reality they only have solved a few low profile cases. Either they are not working or did not catch a clear enough image is the normal line. What good do they really serve? Why pay the same company to upgrade and a yearly maintenance contract when it is not worthy. It is high time that someone with a independent position examines the dynamics of this situation.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the cameras we have now were not evaluated in the context of providing evidence quality footage just so the vendor would get repeat business. What a sweet deal with collusion written all over it. Now let’s see how long the new cameras will last before becoming obsolete.

  5. Maximus says:

    watch the movie citizen four – the Edward Snowden story, and tell me why you think that government should have more surveillance powers here in Cayman?!

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is nothing more than the government using a tragedy as a reason that they need more money. Maybe they should just try real police work if they really want to reduce crime and not just generate revenue.

  7. Anonymous says:

    When they were thinking of getting these cameras I repeatedly voiced concerns over the fact that they would be as good as useless and a complete waste of money unless the resolution was high enough to do the job they were being purchased for. Looks like wise words often fall on deaf ears in Cayman and now they are only just seeing the sense of what I am saying, so now they have to go to even more expense to rectify their stupidity.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I actually agree with this approach. Clearly the 400+ police officers are not getting the job done. It almost feels like they go out of their way to never be in the right place at the right time.
    If you have good quality CCTV footage, and a lot of cameras covering a wide area, you can track the criminals going to and from the crime scene, and narrow the search to a single vehicle or residence. Of course this won’t help prevent crime, but let’s face it, neither are the police.

    • Anonymous says:

      Since any footage would need to be followed up on by those same not-getting-it-done police, my hopes are not high that much will change other than some business’s bank account gets a little fatter.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This camera business needs investigating. If the public paid for cctvgate to catch criminals, why wasn’t the best product sold in the first place?

    • John You says:

      That’s true, they wasted lots of money and now they said they need a up… prevention is better than cure..spend on social programs. Get the cost of living down..It’s the root of the crime. People living in harmony is Good.for the Country ..Start investing in the people now ..teach the kids what family values are. .
      GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO GET THE COST OF LIVING DOWN NOW.that will have a direct effect on better living. better parenting ..Crime soon reach the poltitions door step then it will be too late for them..

  10. says:

    Can you believe this? Absolutely ridiculous waste of money

  11. Fred Up says:

    No guess which cronies (and their insiders) will get that contract!!

  12. k. opsarruseless says:

    The only weakness with the current system is that they are useless. Upgrading to the hi res infra red cameras will mean that we have a higher level of useless and im sure the people with guns will never think to take them out with a bullet before the crime is committed or wear a mask

  13. Anonymous says:

    omg more money spent on CCTV/???? the first ones didn’t work why would new ones work ??????oh yea i forgot someone must be needing money again…lets crook the government again….

  14. Caymans List says:

    Even higher definition camera’s do not help with masked bandits, This money would be better of being used to put more feet on the street.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please do not allow more money to be donated toa certain Security companies coffers in disguised as a purchase of service or equipment. We were told as the taxpayers that the equipment now would do what the upgraded equipment will do.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Crooks wear masks, why no invest this extra money into putting more feet on the Street.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some crooks wear masks yes, but their cars don’t and neither do the numerous witnesses who repeatedly seem to suffer massive memory losses whenever a shooting occurs.

      • Diogenes says:

        Their cars have those nice dark tinted licence plate covers that the police do nothing about. As for the witnesses – no point in identifying them. The police know who the witnesses are in the Ebanks shooting – Baines said so – but they are not prepared to charge them for obstructing an investigation, so what does it matter if you identify them or not. Its about the profit on the contract. Might be more productive to hire a competent anti gangs team from the US.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because someone will make a lot of money out of selling CIG more equipment.

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