Headlines: January 26th, 2005

A new surveillance system that allows criminals and people responsible for anti-social behaviour to be convicted without the need for witness statements is being used by local authorities and registered Social Landlords to tackle problem offenders on housing estates.In the past councils and other authorities have faced the problem of persuading the victims of anti-social behaviour to come forward to make a statements against offenders and this has prevented them from obtaining injunctions, antisocial behaviour orders or criminal convictions. The new surveillance system, devised by security company WM Investigation, uses hidden technology to capture offenders and makes it possible for them to be convicted using the high quality footage.

Wandsworth Borough Council has used WM to deal with anti-social problems on some of its housing estates. A council spokesman said they were committed to using every possible means to protect residents and they made use of covert surveillance where they thought it would be useful and in situations where residents were unwilling to come forward. “In one recent case, WM Investigation provided the evidence which assisted us in regaining possession of one of our properties,” the spokesman said.

The surveillance package, which is available on short-term hire, provides an effective way of assessing initial complaints, as well as gathering the evidence necessary to move the complaint forward. The company supplies and installs covert CCTV equipment at agreed vantage points.

Tony Round, from WM, said installing equipment could be tricky as those being watched often had a high degree of awareness about such devices, but the company’s engineers usually installed the equipment without raising suspicions. In recent months it had assisted with a wide range of problems, using the latest equipment to help convict offenders. The equipment varied from small but powerful, hidden cameras to digital noise nuisance recorders. Images are captured and can be recorded locally or transmitted to a secure internet site that can be viewed by both local police and council officers.

Tony added, “In some parts of the country where problems such as racial harassment, graffiti, prostitution, drugs and juvenile nuisance have been a problem they can now be addressed quickly and with the minimum of risk to bona fide tenants and residents.”