CCTV Surveillance Systems in Metropolitan Areas Help Tame Offenders

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CCTV surveillance systems have been in operation in Lithuanian cities for several years already. According to experts, the cameras dutifully record offences within their respective areas thus helping detect lawbreakers and having a preventive effect. Statistics show that the numbers of violations of public order are reduced by nearly one-fifth in the areas under surveillance.

The interviewed police officers from Vilnius and Klaipėda note that persons planning willful crimes avoid areas that are monitored by the cameras, therefore, security increases in such areas; at the same time, the eagle-eyed cameras record more offences of other types.

Compared with 2009, the number of public order offences in the streets of Vilnius where CCTV cameras were installed has decreased nearly 19%, while that of traffic accidents – by about one-tenth (11%). The Klaipėda Police notes that there has been an obvious decrease in the number of violations in those places of the city where the highest offence rates were recorded in 2009.

According to Giedrius Zaicevas, Director of the Security Solutions Department of FIMA UAB – an engineering solutions company that has installed and is responsible for the maintenance of the metropolitan surveillance systems, - the cameras are mainly fitted at places requiring increased security. “Such places include underground pedestrian crossings, railway and bus station territories, areas near popular clubs and bars, tourist attractions as well as areas known for high crime rates or areas where protection is required for valuable sites and monuments“, says the expert.

Some cameras provided by the company both in the capital and the seaport are remote-control, i. e. controlled from a video surveillance centre. The cameras can be rotated by an angle of 360° and provide a close-up of an image dozens of times. When it becomes dark, the cameras switch to the night-vision mode automatically. They are resistant to adverse weather conditions; the built-in alarm system automatically reports any potential faults of the equipment to the surveillance centre.

A modern surveillance system was installed in Klaipėda at the beginning of 2009 as part of the project aimed at increasing community safety. “We have provided over fifty cameras in the busiest streets and actively visited places of the city. They recorded nearly 700 various offences last year“, says Kazimieras Sinkevičius, Head of the Prevention Division of the Public Order Bureau of the Klaipėda County Chief Police Commissariat.

The cameras both record and help investigate offences. According to K. Sinkevičius, last year the video recordings contributed also to investigation of crimes in at least 30 cases. “Recorded images are also useful in disputed situations when the actual violator of road traffic regulations or the fact of violation has to be established. We also use these materials as proof in resolving conflicts between police officers and potential offenders“, the Police representative sums up the purpose of use of the recordings.

According to the Vilnius Chief Police Commissariat, upon installation of CCTV cameras in Vilnius the numbers of cases of hooliganism and minor crimes have been decreasing from year to year. “We see that the crime rates are decreasing and people feel safer in the places monitored by the cameras. Realising the benefits of video cameras, some residents install them in their private areas; some public institutions, kindergartens and schools also do this“, says Rolandas Šepetys, Head of the Operational Control Division of the Vilnius County Chief Police Commissariat.

The first CCTV cameras were installed in Vilnius in 2003; currently there are 112 of them. In Klaipėda, implementation of the video surveillance system was completed at the beginning of 2009 and today the city‘s security is being monitored by 57 cameras. Images recorded by fixed and controlled video cameras are immediately transmitted to the cities‘ police commissariats and departments.