Record number of arrests made last month through CCTV

A CCTV room set up five years ago has had its most effective month ever with 103 arrests after offenders were identified on screen.

Arrests happen in two ways – either when the operator alerts police to an incident or when they respond to a police callout and lead officers to a suspect identified on CCTV.

Crimes ranged from assault and robbery to possession of drugs.

Supt Mark Wolski from Tower Hamlets Police said: “This is a classic example of how police and the council work together.

“Neither one of us in isolation could make this happen, but together we bring offenders to justice.”

There are about 250 street cameras in the borough and 70 are on view at any given time.

Operators man the CCTV room 24 hours a day.

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Some areas are monitored more closely at times when risk is perceived to be higher.

Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets Council, said: “This record number of arrests is testament to the effectiveness of CCTV in helping to tackle a wide-range of crime and anti-social behaviour.”

But campaign group No CCTV said using arrest figures is misleading as they do not show the impact of cameras on crime statistics or whether the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Charles Farrier, from the campaign, said: “Arrests are meaningless. Studies have shown that CCTV has no impact on crime statistics.

“It’s about looking like you’re doing something.”

They quote the results of a Freedom of Information request in 2007 which showed that boroughs with a high number of cameras are no more likely to have a better clear-up rate than those with less equipment.

Tower Hamlets had a high number of cameras but failed to reach the average 21 per cent clear-up rate for London.

Last year Tower Hamlets was named as the third biggest-spending London council on CCTV.

From 2007 to 2010 it bought �1.4 million worth of new equipment.