As the nights draw in after the clock change last weekend, Merton Council is highlighting the work of its CCTV team and the part it will play in helping to keep the borough’s residents and visitors safe, and feeling safe this winter and throughout the rest of the year.
The latest figures show that the 24/7 staffed, proactive service uses over 150 cameras to help provide intelligence to partners in approximately 2000 incidents each year ranging from disturbance, suspicious behaviour, shoplifting and fighting, to finding vulnerable people or lost children.
Much like all council services, Merton’s CCTV is being reviewed to ensure it is running in the most efficient way but the council is committed to sustaining the service to ensure Merton can remain as one of the safest boroughs in London.
Just last week the CCTV team helped with an incident in Mitcham Town Centre where a two-year old child suffered an epileptic fit in the street and throughout the last year it was instrumental in aiding the police and partners in numerous incidents from stopping drink drivers to helping catch those involved in burglary and leading police to arrests for serious assaults, theft and drug possession.
The Merton CCTV team also monitors the police radio and the town centre radio network operated by shops and pubs, listening out for any incidents or reports that it can help with. Not long ago, as a result of monitoring the radio and hearing about a disturbance, the CCTV operator searched a specific area and spotted someone jump out of a window above a shop. The person’s movements were tracked and the police alerted and informed that the suspect’s clothes appeared to be bloodstained. The CCTV operator led the police to the suspect who was arrested on a bus. Police found a badly injured person in the flat who subsequently died. Police highly commended the CCTV operator for her speed, accuracy and clear information which enabled them to make this arrest and provide evidence, which helped find the suspect guilty of murder and send them to prison for 25 years.
Chief Inspector Mark Lawrence, Merton Police said:
“CCTV is a crucial tool for deterring and detecting crime. Merton police are fortunate enough to enjoy an invaluable working relationship with the CCTV team at Merton, where the value of widespread CCTV coverage maintained by skilled operators working round the clock, has repeatedly proved its worth in helping to make Merton safer.”
Councillor Edith Macauley, Merton Council cabinet member for community safety, engagement and equalities said:
“Police research shows that good CCTV is a very cost effective way of gathering vital evidence – much less than fingerprints and DNA. Working in the courts myself I have seen that the costs of investigations and court cases themselves can also be significantly reduced when offenders are confronted with evidence from quality CCTV recordings.
“Keeping Merton safe is a number one priority for the council and CCTV is a vital tool in helping us to achieve that target.”