Installing CCTV Helps Crack Cases, But High Costs Are a Hurdle

CCTV cameras have helped crack crimes. But, the implementation of Public Safety Enactment Act has been sluggish.

Published03 Oct 2017, 04:40 AM IST
3 min read

Even though investigators have gone through footage from more than 700 cameras, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing Gauri Lankesh’s murder case is still on the lookout for more.

So far, CCTV recordings have only been able to confirm that the killing was carried out by two men on a two-wheeler.

One of the biggest concerns raised was that there were only a handful of cameras situated within a one-kilometer radius of Gauri’s house. 

Police officials have noted that there would have been a better chance to identify the killer had there been more cameras.

This would have been possible, if cops’ proposal for bringing an act, which mandates installation of CCTV cameras at every major establishment and public place in the city, was implemented.

It was more than four years ago that Karnataka police proposed the introduction of Public Safety Enactment Act, along the lines of a similar act passed by the Andhra Pradesh government.

What Is the Public Safety Act?

The Andhra Pradesh government’s act mandated commercial and industrial establishments to install electronic surveillance, at least at the entry and exit points of their premises. It has also been made imperative for them to store the footage for at least 30 days and file periodic returns twice a year.

In case of failure to comply, the act imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 for the first month and Rs 10,000 for the second month. If there is a further violation, the legislature authorises temporary closure of the establishment. The legislature also lays down the compulsory monitoring of establishments by the Inspector of Police of all jurisdictions.

Commissioner’s Office, Bengaluru City Police.<b></b>
Commissioner’s Office, Bengaluru City Police.
(Photo: Roshni Balaji/The Quint)

Karnataka Cops Have Been Pushing for It

Since 2014, the Karnataka police had been pushing for the implementation of Karnataka Public Safety Enactment Act. Even though there was support for the bill from the government following the Church Street bomb blast in 2015, during the years that followed the enthusiasm died down.

Bengaluru police currently has over 1,000 CCTV cameras across the city and an additional 5,000 cameras are expected to be installed by year-end. However, according to the state police, even this might not be enough. 
The police’s network, even with 5,000 cameras, can’t cover the entire city. But if every establishment in the city installs cameras, then we can say we have sufficient coverage.
Senior SIT officer probing Gauri Lankesh case

Talking about the status of the project, T Suneel Kumar, Commissioner, Bengaluru City Police said that the government is still deliberating on the project.

Safina Plaza in Infantry Road, Bengaluru, where the shopkeeper says he can’t afford CCTV coverage.
Safina Plaza in Infantry Road, Bengaluru, where the shopkeeper says he can’t afford CCTV coverage.
(Photo: Roshni Balaji/The Quint)

Implementation Issues

While the police are hoping for a positive word from the government, there are several problems on the ground. One of the shopkeepers at Safina Plaza, a prominent shopping centre in the city, said that he will not be able to afford the CCTV cameras, due to the high maintenance cost. He said he would insist that the owner of the shop install and maintain the CCTV cameras.

While Azaan Feroz, the owner of the plaza, is planning to upgrade the CCTV surveillance in his shopping complex, he said that he has received a quotation of Rs 3,25,000 for 20 cameras including cables and other accessories.

Since my shopping complex mainly sells women’s clothing and accessories, I am obligated to ensure a safe environment for women. CCTV cameras are a must in private establishments to instill fear in the minds of troublemakers.
Azaan Feroz, Owner of Safina Plaza in Bengaluru

While larger malls are ready to install CCTVs, it is the small buildings where the conflict between shopkeepers and owners could be a headache for the implementation of the project. However, police said that if the government passes legislation, despite these owner-tenant conflicts, the project can be executed.

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