Residents want surveillance for safe neighbourhoods

Residents want surveillance for safe neighbourhoods

Bengalureans are all for increasing CCTV coverage of the city and many Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) have already reaped benefits from getting watchful electronic eyes in their neighbourhood.
Jyothi Prasad, a civic leader in Govindarajanagar, vouched for the technology, giving the example of her area. "More than 30 cameras were installed about three or four months ago. Earlier, we used to have incidents of chain-snatching, garbage dumping and vehicle thefts but now the frequency has come down drastically," she said.

The RWA of her area worked with the corporator to identify spots where the infrastructure was most required. Jyothi said that residents are making use of the facility and asking for copies of the tapes. An incident of eve-teasing was also caught on tape and the perpetrators were arrested within 24 hours by identifying the vehicle registration paper, Jyothi said.

Surveillance cameras not only fight crime but if installed near black spots, they prevent garbage dumping, too. Mohammed Saleh, founder secretary of Active Resident Welfare Association of Infantry road, said, "On Park Road, there was a spot in front of a temple and mosque, where people from nearby shops and homes would dump garbage.”

The temple and mosque installed cameras and put up a sign that the area was under surveillance. “Just like that, the garbage dumping stopped,” he recalled. This was the case in Jyothi's area too, where people stopped littering and gave the garbage to pourakarmikas instead.
Saleh said apartments should also supplement the machinery by installing cameras in their property as they fill in blind spots. He gave the example of a grocery store robbery in his area, which was captured on a camera installed in the apartment building opposite the store. He stressed that the cameras, well-lit streets and night patrolling in risky areas, have made his neighbourhood more secure and the residents now sleep peacefully at night.

Dr A Ravindra, former chief secretary of Karnataka and a resident of Indiranagar, said that while CCTV cameras will certainly help track criminals, there should be a system in place to support it. "There should be a mechanism of mobile squads so that the police viewing live footage can immediately get into action if they see any crime. They should be able to reach the spot immediately," he said.

It may not be feasible to instal cameras except in high risk areas, so brightly lit streets are important to make the city safe, he said. "Many streets in Bengaluru have poor streetlights or they are don't work at all. Good lighting will deter criminals and will make the streets safer for women," Dr Ravindra said.

Realising the benefits of CCTV cameras in making the neighbourhood safer, the HAL 2nd stage Residents Welfare Association (RWA) is now asking its local representatives to instal them from their funds. "Rather than having individual houses installing cameras, we have placed a formal request with our local MLAs to work with us and use their fund for the purpose," said Aruna Newton, president of the RWA.

She said that CCTV cameras are essential for a city like Bengaluru, but they need to be supported by an ecosystem. "We need a good command centre through which we can alert the police and we need a quick response team. Proper lighting is also a necessity," Newton said. BBMP should work towards creating this ecosystem and instal cameras in public places like bus stations and parks, she said.



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