Closed-circuit television network (CCTV) across the metro is crucial to building a safer city. From July 2017 – March 2018 CCTV footage in Cape Town detected 10 646 incidents of which 3 332 were crime-related, resulting in 152 arrests for various offences including robbery, drug possession, smash-and-grab crimes, burglary and more.

Moving forward on installing more cameras, the City of Cape Town’s Strategic Surveillance Unit (SSU) is increasing the funding and footprint of its CCTV network across the metro.

“Camera installations for the 2017/18 financial year are being finalised. By the end of June 2018, the SSU will have overseen the installation of new CCTV infrastructure in 41 wards through ward allocation funding totalling R6 170 666. This is in addition to R9,5 million made available through the Integrated City Development Grant and the Safety and Security Directorate for installations in Kraaifontein, Wallacedene and Bokmakierie in Athlone,” the City said in a statement.

Alderman JP Smith, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, said they have seen an increase in ward allocation funding for several years now as more councillors recognise the value of CCTV installations to help safeguard the communities they serve.

The new installations have taken the City’s overall CCTV network to a total of 1 544 cameras. These include:

  • Freeway Management System: 239
  • Integrated Rapid Transit System: 711
  • Metro Police Strategic Surveillance Unit: 594

In addition, more than 513 private camera installations have already been registered with the City.

The footage is stored in data centres across the city and is made available to the SAPS if they need it for investigation purposes. In recent months, the City has also started using CCTV cameras in conjunction with its ShotSpotter gunshot detection system to help identify suspects in shooting incidents in the areas where the ShotSpotter system is deployed. More information on that initiative is available here.

Smith emphasised that there is no doubt about the crucial role that CCTV plays in crime prevention and detection, which is why the City continues to invest in the technology. That said, it is not without challenges. Often, there are simply not enough resources to respond timeously to incidents detected by camera operators, whether by our own staff or the South African Police Service.

“Cable theft is another ongoing concern that has affected our ability to keep all cameras on, all the time. We do however have functionality rates of approximately 90%, which is on par with best practice internationally. We have started experimenting with wireless technology, but the quality is not as good as fibre optic cables, nor is it as reliable. We also need the justice system to crack down on cable thieves. Our national policies and related legislation recognise the crippling impact that cable theft has on the economy and communities, but it means little without follow-through by the criminal justice system,” added Smith.

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