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Crime Trends - Is Your CCTV Infrastructure Up to the Job?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Crime Trends - Is Your CCTV Infrastructure Up to the Job?

Introduction 

Crime trends and criminal modus operandi are never stagnant. Barringtons have conducted meetings with the Police Armed Hold Up Squad (AHUS) for many years to keep abreast of the latest crime trends and investigative tools to ensure all our training examples and information are current and relevant.  It also allows club security, operations and gaming managers to be provided the latest crime information available. The fact that many of Barringtons investigators and trainers are highly experienced former detectives, allows a relaxed and frank exchange of information on a large range of issues. 

Crime Trends and Modus Operandi in Armed Robberies 

Crime statistics for robberies are well down from a decade ago and at the moment they are down in all areas, however with a very modest clear up rate of just 18%. In the main the offenders consist of gangs of young juvenile males while the individual robber is more likely to be an older drug user acting alone. The ethnicity of gangs is broad with a large number of juvenile gangs.  The gangs contain a mixture of experienced juvenile criminals and inexperienced “cleanskins” with no criminal record. 

The hot spots, (in no particular order) are: Flemington, Rosehill, Campbelltown, City Central, Redfern and Blacktown. Guns are the current weapon of choice, closely followed by knives or machetes, with syringes rarely seen these days. The level of violence is observed to escalate where a gang’s or individual’s spree of offences continues. Repeat offenders may run up ten to twelve jobs before they are caught. Whereas the professional gangs targeting large victims will perform extensive surveillance with highly sophisticated planning lesser criminals are largely opportunistic and only conduct a basics of surveillance - that is they may visit the prospective location on same day or hours before and use a stolen car or car with stolen plates as their getaway vehicle. Lower level criminals are stealing to finance their drug habits while criminals involved in the bigger jobs are stealing in order to support a ‘bling’ lifestyle of partying with cocaine and other drugs. Inside information is occasionally passed on by staff or contractors. 

The squad cautions that businesses should be wary about staff and contractors having too much knowledge of the cash movements and workings of the premises. The Change Bar and Cash room are usually the most targeted with criminals often making staff open cigarette machines, gaming machines, Keno Bar tills, bar tills etc. In some serious cases, penalties for Armed Robbery can extend to 25 years imprisonment in NSW, (Section 96 - Armed Robbery with Wounding).  The squad believes that the current penalties are not severe enough as most offenders are getting sentences of 3 to 4 years with an eighteen month non-parole period.  The number of juvenile offenders is a problem as they often walk away ‘scot free’.  

Gaol time for juveniles is very rare. Offenders make very few guilty pleas unless the Police Brief is outstanding.  It is a constant battle to get the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to confer with police before making bargain decisions with the defence and as a result there is about a 50% acquittal rate.  This puts the police in the position of sometimes laying additional or extra charges to allow for the fact that bargaining away by the DPP and the defence lawyers will inevitably take place.  This way, the police reason, if the DPP make a bargain, then there is still a stiff enough penalty to worry criminals. It costs approximately $30,000 for the police to conduct an investigation using a listening device or covert CCTV surveillance for a simple monitoring job lasting a couple of weeks.  Long complicated jobs are very hard to obtain approval for due to the cost factor. Occasionally the Police use informants under the provisions of a Controlled Operation Process, but the guidelines are very strict.

To Look or Not to Look 

It has been Barringtons  advice in Armed Robbery Survival training, that victims not look at offenders during a robbery.  After some lengthy discussion regarding this point Police agreed that the objective of the victim is to stay safe, but that the police need assistance to catch criminals. Police advise that most venues have poor quality CCTV infrastructure and therefore footage is generally deemed useless. They are seeking the assistance of Clubs and other businesses to upgrade current systems so that they do not require additional information from victims. If the CCTV system is of good quality and cameras professionally positioned identification is can easily be made.  

Barringtons firmly advise that victims should never look at the offenders regardless of the standard of CCTV cameras. The squad called for assistance from Barringtons to advise all its clients of the importance of Identification Standard CCTV cameras in the foyer, both internal and external at the very least.   Positioning of cameras is crucial. It is also agreed that victims/witnesses should be invited / permitted to view CCTV footage to refresh their memories, if they wish, prior to making a statement to the Police. It was further revealed that victims/witnesses need to be warned not to state any evidence that they did not actually see during the incident but saw only on the CCTV footage later. 

This latter point is the responsibility of the Police officer taking the statement. If the matter goes to court it is permissible for the witness to freely disclose that they watched the CCTV cameras prior to making a statement to the Police. 

CCTV systems which were installed within business premises during and prior 2000’s are more than likely to be video systems using analogue CCTV cameras and VHS video cassette. As technology advanced through the early 2000’s the video cassette systems were replaced with Digital Video Recorders (DVR’s). This enabled CCTV footage to be stored within the hard drives of the DVR. CCTV camera quality increased in resolution and the mega pixel camera became a popular camera to capture identification. Digital IP CCTV systems have revolutionised the security industry and is now the highest quality CCTV solution on the market. High Definition Internet Protocol camera’s (IP) is a type of digital video camera typically used for surveillance and which unlike analogue CCTV cameras, can send and receive data via a computer network and the internet.  IP cameras have a resolution of at least 640x480 and can provide multi-megapixel resolution and HDTV image quality at 30 frames per second providing high quality image identifications such as number plate identifications and persons of interest identification. Barringtons advice to all 

Clubs is to ensure that CCTV cameras are of a good standard and well positioned.  After any critical incident the footage should be burned to a disc and stored in a safe / secure location.  Staff should be encouraged to view the footage prior to being interviewed by Police and should compile independent contemporaneous notes of the incident at the first opportunity.  (Contemporaneous notes are notes made by the witness alone, within a reasonable period after the incident and signed and endorsed with the date and time of the recording by the person making the notes.)

 Reproduced from an article in CMA Magazine Learn about Barringtons Security Risk Assessments here.

 Blayne Webb, Director, Barringtons

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