Camera control room launched in Ocean View

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, in the control room.

Ocean View has a new weapon against crime after the City of Cape Town launched a CCTV-camera control room there last week.

The City installed five CCTV cameras, costing R900 000, in Ocean View in March last year but they couldn’t be monitored by the Metro Police Strategic Surveillance Unit’s (SSU) control centres on the other side of the peninsula because the mountains blocked the signal.

The new control room in Ocean View gets around this problem, according to mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith.

Staff in the local control room will monitor the cameras and call for the necessary response. There are other local control rooms in Grassy Park, Lotus River and Elsies River.

“For now, we will rely on localised monitoring, but, as fibre connection and microwave technology improve, we might have dual-monitoring in the future,” Mr Smith said.

Neighbourhood watch members had been trained to monitor the cameras from the control room, and two more cameras are due to be installed in the next few months, he said.

Mr Smith thanked the neighbourhood watch members and residents monitoring the cameras.

There are plans to train
auxiliary law enforcement officers to monitor the cameras so the
centre can operate round the clock.

Mr Smith cautioned though that the cameras themselves would not make the community safer.

“It is not the same as having a police officer present. The cameras can see the crime happen, and if nothing is done with that information, it is just another crime that was seen by a camera.”

The cameras are always on, and the police have access to the footage.

Since November last year,
the cameras have spotted trespassing, drug dealing, robbery, a shooting incident and the setting alight of rubble.

Mr Smith said two police detectives had also turned to the centre for help with their investigations into a murder and an attempted murder.

Ocean View police spokesman Sergeant, Leon Fortuin, said the cameras would help combat crime because officers on the ground could be guided to a suspect’s location.

“A suspect can be linked to the crime by his face being viewed on the footage and this will help to get a successful conviction where there was previously not sufficient evidence to prosecute,” he said.

Ocean View Community Police Forum chairwoman, Kathy Cronje, said that while the cameras were a great help, she was worried about the control centre’s location as several neighbourhood watch members had been threatened on their way to it.