The bombing of a Bangkok temple in August showed how vital CCTV is for giving the police the clues they need to make headway in an investigation.
That’s not to say the whole attack was caught on film. Image quality was poor and only about 25 per cent of street cameras in downtown Bangkok were working at the time, according to the media. This was an unnecessary shame – had the authorities arranged the sort of service routine that would be standard for our commercial customers then a lot more cameras would have been active and the police could have tracked the attackers’ escape route.
But even with the small number of grainy pictures they did get, the police were able to extract enough information from the footage to piece together not only what actually happened – and initial reports mistakenly claimed that a motorbike bomb had been used. They could also build up a description of the prime suspect and profile him for clues to a motive and MO. Behaviour analysis even identified two other people the Thai authorities think were working with the bomber.
Going back to Boston in 2013, the Marathon bombers were quickly identified and captured because of CCTV imagery. The latest generation of very high-quality imagery from IP CCTV systems was used earlier this year as evidence in the trial to successfully convict bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This technology is relatively new but it’s fast becoming widely available to all users, including our commercial customers.
Some of the imagery that helped lead to Tsarnaev’s arrest came from shopfront cameras at a nearby restaurant that had only been installed to protect the restaurant from frivolous lawsuits. Instead, they played a vital national security role!
In fact, the cameras had been due to be turned off servicing on the day of the marathon. Fortunately for the FBI, the work was rescheduled, otherwise they wouldn’t have had the leads they did for such a quick arrest and both bombers might still have been at large.
When it comes to servicing, ADP Security Systems can plan maintenance so that there’s always at least one camera up and running at all times to minimise any gaps in coverage.
Terrorist attacks have really put CCTV in the spotlight this year, but even for street crime and commercial property break-ins, it plays a particularly important. With cuts in their budgets, the police can’t give this sort of crime the priority that victims would like, especially because this sort of crime doesn’t leave much forensic evidence to go on. But with more modern CCTV footage, the police may just get the lead that helps them crack the case.