Yesterday, the Big Brother Watch team had the chance to preview a recently launched system designed to improve the ease by which shop-owners and licence premises are able to report low-level crimes to the Police force.
The system, which is being marketed under the name ‘Facewatch’, is designed to help cut the levels of bureaucracy associated with using CCTV to secure convictions.
When reporting a crime, the CCTV operator using the system is able to search through his own footage and select a short clip of the suspected crime being committed which can then be transmitted directly to the Police officer who will handle the case directly. As such, footage of innocent members of the public never makes it into the hands of Police and can be routinely deleted at source.
From Big Brother Watch's point of view, one of the most attractive elements of the system was that it removes the need for CCTV operators to hand over either vast reels of video tape or CDs to the Police which are ultimately lost due to officer error. Indeed, the problem of accidental data loss by police force has been highlighted on this blog twice in the last week. Similarly, we were comforted by the pledges made by the developer to work closely with the Information Commissioner in order to ensure data protection concerns are taken into consideration as it is rolled out across the country.
At Big Brother Watch, we always cautious about the ways in which CCTV footage is used, yet it certainly seems that Facewatch is taking a step in the right direction when it comes to using technology to secure convictions while at the same time ensuring that the privacy of innocent members of the public is protected.
Facewatch’s website can be found here.