CCTV helps protect lives and property

The City of Sydney’s CCTV operators tipped off police three times a day last year as they viewed footage of incidents about to unfold, helping to protect the public and giving law enforcers the jump on criminals.

From a high-tech, 24-hour CCTV surveillance centre, 18 personnel in the City’s Security and Emergency team flick between screens as they watch over the local government area (LGA) day and night, often providing video evidence for successful prosecutions.

Between July 2013 and June, the CCTV operators alerted police 1,084 times, an increase of 134 on the previous year, when people or property were directly in harm’s way, genuine fears were held for someone’s welfare, or when crimes were being committed.

When someone was seen lying motionless near Central Station last year, police were called and later advised that the stricken man, by then hospitalised, would not have survived without immediate help.

Upon hearing on police radio of a knife-wielding man in Hyde Park, an operator promptly located the suspect and transferred live footage to the police, who arrived just as a 16-year-old girl was meeting him.

Another CCTV operator alerted police to a pickpocket in action and enabled officers to return the wallet before its owner even realised it was missing.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that the City was proud of the CCTV security service and the vigilance of the operators.

“Unfortunately a small minority of people will try to do the wrong thing at the expense of others, and we know from experience that CCTV is not only helping protect their potential victims but also helping police.”   

Sydney City Local Area Commander, Acting Superintedent Greg Jewiss, said the footage has proved invaluable to police investigations on many occasions.

“The City of Sydney Street Safe Program has helped police affect dozens of arrests.
“And we look forward to continuing our work with council to prevent crime and maintain safety across the Sydney CBD.”

Manager of the City’s Security and Emergency Department, David Cornett, said his team takes pride in assisting members of the public who are in need of help.

“People who want a fun, safe experience in the city can rest assured that we are looking out for them 24/7.

“And anyone with the intention of playing up in the LGA should think twice - because they are probably being watched by our team.”

The CCTV centre costs the City $1.6 million to operate annually – not including the cost of hardware and software.

Members of the Security and Emergency team lodged 6,574 reports on actions that captured their attention in the 2013/14 financial year, transferring vision to police on 1,243 occasions.

For the previous year the numbers were 6,890 and 1,141 respectively.

CCTV operators were able to identify offenders on 215 occasions, helping police catch and prosecute them.