Put CCTV in EVERY home: Householders should help us trap burglars, says Scotland Yard chief
We have them here in the USA… They are called I phones, security systems, and Computers. In every home …..
Bernard Hogan Howe said people installed their CCTV cameras too high
This meant only the tops of the criminals’ heads were caught on film
Families should install their own cameras to help catch burglars, he said
The Met chief said Britain needed more cameras to help fight crime
Homeowners should consider fitting CCTV to trap burglars, the country’s most senior police officer declared yesterday.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said police forces needed more crime scene footage to match against their 12million images of suspects and offenders.
And he called on families and businesses to install cameras at eye level – to exploit advances in facial recognition technology.
But privacy campaigners condemned the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s suggestion.
‘The proposals on increasing the amount of privately owned CCTV cameras are quite frankly Orwellian and risk turning members of the public into an extension of the police,’ said Renate Samson of Big Brother Watch.
‘Private CCTV is completely unregulated. Recommending greater use of CCTV to gather more images of people’s faces – often innocent people’s faces – undermines the security of each and every one of us.’
She pointed out that a House of Commons committee had on Saturday released a report on the problems with facial recognition.
Labour MP Andrew Miller said: ‘We were alarmed to discover that the police have begun uploading custody photographs of people to the police national database and using facial recognition software without any regulatory oversight. Some of the people had not even been charged.’
Sir Bernard said most cameras were mounted high to keep them out of harm’s way and to give an overview of a crime area.
He was speaking after Beverley Turner, wife of Olympic rower James Cracknell, challenged him on LBC Radio on whether CCTV could be used to catch burglars.
Her house was burgled while she and her children were sleeping and footage from a neighbour’s CCTV camera was too grainy to identify the thieves.
When Miss Turner asked if more cameras were needed in homes and businesses, Sir Bernard replied: ‘Yes. We’ve got a strategy to encourage people to move their cameras down to eye level.
‘Facial recognition software has got better, and we can now apply it to images of burglaries, and then compare them with images we take when we arrest people.
‘What we need to be able to do is to be able to compare that photograph with the images we have of people committing a crime.
‘Taking the tops of their heads is not that helpful for facial recognition which relies on the eyes and the configuration of the area around the nose and the mouth. So we’re trying to get people to, ideally, add a camera at face level.
‘If anyone listening has a business, think about installing a new one – they’re relatively cheap. If you can’t buy one, could you think about moving it?’ Covert cameras disguised as clocks, clothes hooks, mirrors and even thermometers can be bought for as little as £40.
They have been responsible for an avalanche of ‘peeping Tom’ prosecutions involving footage taken in changing rooms, offices and toilets.
Many bookmakers use them to identify robbers or fraudsters.The Green peer Baroness Jones said it was wrong to encourage householders to follow suit. ‘It threatens to undermine people’s confidence and inject fear in the place where they should feel most secure,’ she said.
‘I’m not sure it will make anyone feel any safer and the use of facial recognition technology remains largely untested and unproven.’
Research from the College of Policing last week revealed CCTV only modestly cuts crimes such as vandalism and car theft and is useless in stopping violence.
Experts said better street lighting and neighbourhood watch schemes were more valuable.
Aaron Bradford, 18, broke into Rosalinde Potter’s house in Yelverton, Devon, for a third time in the middle of the afternoon but was disturbed when she returned at 2.40pm.
She saw the house had been ransacked and called police unaware that Bradford was still in her home and when police arrived he stayed quiet in his hiding place.
But what he did not know is that Ms Potter had installed CCTV cameras after being victim to burglaries in the past.
Armed with a poker, Aaron Bradford, 18, looks around one of the rooms of after hiding for 13 hours
She said: ‘We were all in the room while he was there – me, a police officer, another officer taking fingerprints, my partner. He was within arms reach of all of us.
‘There’s a shelf inside and I assume he was sitting there like a gnome holding a fishing rod. He’s slim but 6ft tall so I think that’s the only way he could have done it.
‘We went into the spare room with the police three times while he was sat inside there. I went back into the room myself later too. It’s very disturbing to think that someone might actually want to hit me with a poker.
‘It took me three weeks before I could even sleep at night just thinking someone could be in the house.’
The cameras filmed him as he tried to make a getaway with a laptop and camera, brandishing a poker at 4am once his victim had gone to bed.
In one clip that Ms Potter released, Bradford can be seen going into a room where he stands for a short while before turning a light on.
He surveys the room, turns the light off and then using the glow from his mobile phone he carefully tiptoes around.
He was arrested nearby and identified by the CCTV footage, which showed him entering the house on one day – and then leaving it on the next.
After his arrest police found the stolen laptop in a bag that Bradford had with him.