City Councillor Pushing for Surveillance Cameras
Prince George, B.C. – A Prince George City Councillor would like to see this city follow the steps of an Okanagan community and install surveillance cameras downtown.
Brian Skakun says the City of Vernon just committed $11,000 for surveillance measures there and in light of the high number of RCMP calls for service at 3rd and George Street downtown, wonders why Prince George doesn’t do the same.
A recent report to council by Prince George RCMP Superintendent Warren Brown revealed that between 2011 and 2015, there has been a 22% increase in calls for police to attend the 3rd and George area.
In the first three months of this year, calls are already up 7% over the same period a year ago and over the last four years on average there have been 132 calls to that area a month.
“So obviously they’ve realized the benefit of having these cameras and you know we go to the malls today, go to the banks, you walk past businesses just about everybody has video surveillance and it’s not like it would be anything new,” he says.
“I mean people have to have privacy rights and going forward with this issue there would have to be a plan in place with what you’d do with the collected information and how you would possibly disclose it to the RCMP if needed and you’d need to talk to the privacy commissioner and figure out what would be the best way to balance a person’s privacy with fighting crime.”
But he’s still in favour of them.
“It’s been an issue for some time but when the RCMP came to council and said we’ve had 1,700 calls in a couple of years for 3rd and George, I’m thinking my God, if we can’t get the boots on the ground down there let’s at least get some video surveillance equipment.”
Plus, Skakun says the civic facilities already have surveillance so why not?
“There’s no easy solution but I think there’s an opportunity to at least try it and see if it helps as a deterrent to start with. It’s a deterrent when you have signage saying the area is under surveillance.”
What’s more, he says business owners in the area have been telling him they’re fed up with what’s going on and its time council try something new.
“I think when you get a real hot spot like 3rd and George, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting and we’re not getting any results in reducing crime.”
Superintendent Brown says he’s not opposed to cameras but notes they are very controversial.
“I don’t want to become part of the controversy but I will say if there are any innovative or exceptional manners in which we as a community can support to ensure public safety I’m behind that,” he says.
“In this particular location, because of the high volume of crime being reported because of the businesses and community outcry towards the police to bring some level of safety because of the number of overdoses we’ve seen – we’ve seen some deaths in and around the area – I would say that criteria for a camera or public cameras exist. Not to compromise the comings and goings of people who have legitimate purpose there. If it deters crime, if it can capture something criminally, I’m supportive of it.”
He notes though the installation of any cameras would not be police driven.
“The police do not want to take responsibility for these. If there are businesses, a community approach to it I would support that. Certainly there’s privacy legislation around the RCMP usage of video – there’s search warrants, there’s judicial authorization requirements but if they are in the general public for the use of deterring crime, I support that.”
But Micheal Vonn, policy director with the BC Civil Liberties Association, doubts the cameras would work.
“We know from social science data that just putting cameras in public spaces does very, very little,” she says. “There are a few places where CCTV has proved to be quite effective – underground parking garages are one of them. But simply on random street corners is not one of them.”
Vonn also shoots down the notion a sign warning the public a camera is present would deter crime from occurring.
“You want to be very specific about what it is you are trying to capture. If we’re looking at something like this is the kind of area many people get intoxicated, I can guarantee you a sign saying please don’t do this you’re on camera, is not going to do much.”
I am all for CCTV however many people will be dead set against it some for valid reasons others will fear monger and others will hate it because they hate the idea of being watched but the reality is when your in a public space your expectations to privacy are virtually non existent
Aren’t there cameras already there? I’m pretty sure the courthouse has cameras. I think I saw them on one of the other buildings there too. I think the building on the north west corner has them too. Anyone want to check and post it here?
I went down to check. Three of the four buildings on that corner have security cameras already.
Cameras wont make any difference, the people causing the problems could care less if they are caught because there are no consequences anyway. Besides, most trouble makers have more friends and family in jail than out anyway.
I think that cameras would collect very useful evidence! Evidence can be presented and acted upon to change the “no consequences” conundrum. A picture (or video) is worth more than a thousand words of denials and excuses. I am 100% in favour of Skakun’s proposal.
I also do not believe that people could care less if they are caught and put in jail. By jail I mean an uncomfortable and strict rules bare bones accommodation – one that the convicts hate and want to get out of as soon as possible by demonstrating that they have changed their attitude towards the rules and laws of our society.
While I dont object to the idea of more cctv surveillance, I really do not believe that it will help. Peter North is right in believing that (for the most part) the perpetrators of crime do not care if they get caught.
The change that is needed will have to originate from the judicial system. Without meaningful consequences, those who have no jobs, no money and no future will not be deterred by the prospect of some light (if any) jail time.
Most times, the criminals are back out on the street before the arresting officer gets off his shift. The courts give the crooks a little slap, and they are free to do it all over again.
I really feel sorry for the cops who do their job, only to see these people back out doing the same thing right away.
Mass surveillance has been tried and has been a dismal failure elsewhere. You’d know that if you actually did some solid research. No surprise this Councilor is bringing it forward; speak or act first and think about it later.
I believe cameras on 3rd and George will help with the problem but it will take some serious time before things settle down around this part of PG. This area is known to frequent the homeless, drug dealers, and drunks because it’s so close to the shelter and other amenities aimed to those folks.
There are also two Pawn Shops where the clientèle is low income selling their stuff for booze, drugs and maybe to pay the rent. Businesses also play a role so really we can’t just blame the bad people who frequent the area. Some businesses are just not strategically located because the owner is cheap or they simply wanted to be in a lower part of the commercial spotlight and end up getting what they are paying for.
“This area is known to frequent the homeless, drug dealers, and drunks because it’s so close to the shelter and other amenities aimed to those folks.”
Like the saying goes – build it, provide it and they will come! If it is so easy and convenient they will stay and not look at other cities which may be an alternative.
Won’t hurt to try it out.
CCTV is the lazy mans way to solve a problem. Put up a camera and go back to sleep.
Skakun knows (or should know) that the problem downtown is much bigger than just criminal activity. Putting a camera on the main streets, doesn’t do much for the activity taking place in other areas.
There are many problems that compel people to call the Police, ie; shop lifting, breaking and entry, prostitution, panhandling, urinating and defecating in a public place, sleeping in business’s doorways, and on and on it goes.
Lets consider for a minute that we have had roughly 132 calls per month for that area for the past few years. Now the real question is, how many people were arrested as a result of these calls, what were the charges, and what was the consequence of the court cases. My guess is that you would see that while there has been a police attendance there has been very little down in regards to laying charges.
This problem downtown (As Skakun and the City well know) is a social problem, a health problem, in addition to a criminal problem.
As I stated before. If you are not going to deal with the actual problem then all you are doing is blowing smoke.
Putting up camera’s is a non starter. These people are on the street all day and all night and can be observed by the human eye any time you chose to take a look.
It is about collecting permanent irrefutable evidence which can be used by police and the courts to make a difference. Just looking at it with the human eye is practically worthless since two people can look at the same event and can have recollections which differ in many important details.
“This problem downtown (As Skakun and the City well know) is a social problem, a health problem, in addition to a criminal problem.”
You nailed it! For the criminal problem aspect video evidence would be useful. The other two – social and health – require dedicated efforts by all citizens and all levels of government.
Surveillance cameras in the locations which Skakun talks about are in place mainly to capture images to be reviewed when an incident has happened.
If one wants to put a camera in place to monitor activity as it goes on so that someone can dispatch officers to the scene, it means $ to pay for the monitoring. 24/7 monitoring by a live person is VERY expensive. Even using lower paid civilian observers would amount to over $200,000/year. Putting more boots on the ground for that money and getting to know the people would be more effective.
We should remember what Brown said: “It happens to be an area where vulnerable people need to be” says Supt. Brown because of the access to a variety of health and social services located within a small area.
“But one thing is clear says Supt. Brown “We can’t arrest our way out of this”. He says many of the infractions involve what are considered nuisance charges and he wonders if the Court system would even want to move forward with charges
“We have to find a new way of doing business” says Supt. Brown. He says adopting an Aboriginal Court model, which incorporates traditional cultural factors in dealing with certain offenders may be part of the solution.”
He said nothing about cameras. One would think if that were the solution, that is what he would have spoken about.
Leave it to the civil liberty folks to doubt any deterrent … any at all.
So you figure Superintendent Brown is a “civil liberty folk”? That is why he suggested the things he suggested instead of reliance on cameras?
As has been said, cameras are the lazy way out. They can provide evidence.
The problem is a social problem. I believe less than half of the calls are due to crimes being reported. Loitering is not a crime.
Sup Brown is in favour of cameras. I see no where in any quote that he is not or that it is the lazy man’s way out. All I see is he says he wants to stay out of the controversy but if it deters crime and captures crime he is in full support of it.
“if it deters crime and captures crime he is in full support of it.”
Yes, who would not be?
There are two problems with that.
1. show me conclusive proof that it deters crime.
2. why are you ignoring the key suggestions he made?
Cameras may move crime to other locations. It is no different than the sex trade. It moves around town to accommodate restrictions. It still exists
Cameras do not reduce the market place’s demand for drugs. The highest demand is likely living in our suburban residential areas who get their fixes in other ways.
I am not detracting from anything he said, and I do not see any quote from him on any “suggestions” you refer to – maybe you are reading Skakun or Vonn’s comments? And maybe you missed the quote
“In this particular location, because of the high volume of crime being reported because of the businesses and community outcry towards the police to bring some level of safety because of the number of overdoses we’ve seen – we’ve seen some deaths in and around the area – I would say that criteria for a camera or public cameras exist”
Sure sounds like Sup Brown is in full support of cameras, just can’t get involved in controversy – you know being a superintendent and all
Perhaps we could all strap a camera to our foreheads and then we would have everyone under surveillance all the time. The camera’s could be jigged to send the picture direct to the RCMP.
We could do a trial run with Councillor Skakun and see how it works. If it is a success then we could expand the program to other Councillors, and Provincial and Federal Mla’ and Mp’s.
If you are going to spy on citizens, we may as well start at the top and work our way down to Third and George.
haahhahha might end up catching Skakum doing something he shouldn’t.
Dntn is a social problem.. Move some of those agencys around town.
Businesses should also take action and insure their business has proper monitoring. Its not acceptable for a credit union or a store to be robbed and the only picture is a 1.1 mega pixel black and blue blob walking into the business. HD 1080p. Multi-able HD camera systems are not expensive.
Kind of late to complain about camera’s considering their wide spread usage in businesses and residences. Smile for the ATM!
Almost everyday cameras are shown to solve crime by having the perpetrators identified.
When there is a stabbing on third and George cameras most likely would help in solving. Wonder if the social injustice league do not want crimes solved in that area.
Remember cameras solved the Boston bombing.
Where were the stabbings and assaults in this City and how many were on that corner?
I want to see a crime map. They exist, yet we do not get to see them.
Oh I get it, only install cameras at identified high risk areas after the fact.
Sorry you do not get it. You may think you do, but you do not.
I want people to see where the crime occurs. There are nuisance calls downtown more than calls from people who observe crimes.
People do not observe home invasions, burglaries, robberies, rapes, gangs accosting people going about their business, damaging properties, and on and on. Those people experience the crime, rarely with observers.
George and third is a single area with a high number of sighting of people loitering, possibly observing something that they think may be illegal. When called to the scene, over half end up in no arrest. There may be some put in a drunk tank overnight. We really don’t even know how many see a day in front of a judge.
Compared to East Hastings and Main, it is peanuts.
nothing is as effective like boots on the ground
I really do not see a problem with CCTV cameras in high crime areas! A crime occurred – the video recordings are examined for any evidence that has been recorded!
NOBODY has to sit in front of a display 24/7 to monitor what is going on! Security guards do that at airports, casinos and military bases.
The situation here would be completely different. Once a criminal has been caught with video evidence after a crime was committed the odds are stacked heavily against the perpetrator.
Unless skakuN is willing to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to cloak the entire downtown then, as usual, he is just flapping his gums.
The criminals would just move if a few cameras where put up around the “bad” area. How many times have you seen a picture on tv of a suspect and the picture is so low quality that it could be my grandma or the neighbours kid. Unless skakun is willing to spend our tax dollars on good quality equipement including installation, and people to monitor it them.
Okay Brian, you got your name in the media again…time to go away for awhile.
Here is some information from a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on white collar crime.
Thirty-six percent of Canadian organizations said they were hit by white-collar crime in 2014. This number is up from 32% in 2011.
More often than not – 61% of reported crimes – the perpetrator is someone inside the organization. The typical internal fraudster is middle-aged, university-or college-educated, in a middle management job, and with at least 10 years of service.
The four most common crimes in Canada are theft of assets (58% of reported crimes) fraud in the procurement process (33%) accounting fraud (22%) and cybercrime (22%). Nearly half of Canadian organizations surveyed said the risk from computer crime has increased.
Of the organizations reporting a crime, one in 10 said they lost more than $5 Million,.
The sectors most likely to experience crimes are financial services, retailing and communications.
Fifteen percent of Canadian companies said they have been asked to pay bribes, 14% said they’ve lost business for refusing to pay.
So there you have it. Seems if we follow the logic for CCTV we should be putting video camera’s everywhere, including people homes, offices, and toilets.
This CCTV suggestion is bogus, and we should move on to solving more interesting problems at City Hall like high taxes, and excessive spending.
White collar crimes are not committed in a street in public! They can not be recorded by a video camera, not even in an office where they may be done on a computer. The CCTV suggestion is not bogus, but white collar crime is indeed a bogus issue when brought up in the context of Cameras In Public Places! It would be helpful to stay on the topic and present ideas which contribute something positive!
Mass surveillance cameras may not deter, but how can anyone argue the fact they can be useful and effective in capturing crimes and identifying criminals.
The Boston bombers, terrorist attacks in Paris, skytrain crimes in Vancouver etc.. There’s a very long list of places where this has been an effective way of capturing criminals.
Just because it may not deter crime doesn’t mean criminals should get away with committing the crime.
I don’t like the fact that the world has become a place where Big Brother see’s our every move, but if it helps in punishing people who aren’t decent members of society then I’m willing to make that sacrifice.
When they are finally caught I’d just like to see our soft courts finally bring the hammer down on some of these people.
Ugly stiff sentences can be a deterrent I’m sure. We just don’t try that one often enough.
The cameras can also come in handy when the Canucks lose the Stanley cup.
Ha!! I love it!!
I think for serious problems cameras would be helpful – i.e., who stabbed who. But for nuisance crime, the perpetrators are stoned, drunk, mentally ill. They know the police are not going to arrest them, because they know the courts don’t have time to deal with someone arrested for being drunk in a public place, or peeing in an alley, or swearing loudly etc.
I am told, the RCMP are in a reactive mode now. They have no time to look for trouble. Ever wonder why an RCMP officer drives by the person on the cell phone rather than issue a ticket, because she is on the way to a call. They are almost always on calls – rarely patrolling.
So,you show up with your irrefutable video proof of a nuisance crime – they will be compelled to investigate it, but the crown will never lay charges because the system is already jammed up.
But Palopu said something the other day that needs to be looked at. Jail might not be a deterrent, but while in jail, they aren’t committing crime. Maybe we need to build cheaper jails, and do some justice system streamlining. Jail might become a deterrent when a jail is a concrete cell with a TV on the other side of the bars, and no programs, no recreation, just sit for 3 months and watch the fishing channel.
OK P Val, you got your name in the media again….time for you to go away again for a while.
Might as well double the order while they are at it, as they will probably also need some camera’s for the new park they are planning to build one block over at the wood innovation centre.
Why do we need pictures of the crimes going on down there? I for one don’t have to see video of it to believe it’s happening. 90% of the problem people are already “known to Police” and yet it goes on, pictures really won’t change much because the system is not prepared to actually take them off the streets. the jails are to full already and is letting inmates out after only serving part of the sentences anyways.
Oh and if you really don’t want to be on camera you should stay inside your house, cuz if u don’t you’re already on cam!
People who support the use of video camera’s are in fact supporting the loss of your freedom as an individual.
You can always make an excuse to take away someone’s freedom’s and it is usually masked as being for the betterment of society as a whole. Fact of the matter is, it is not better.
As long as you have a friendly (so called) Government then you can continue to blindly allow this type of activity. See you much you would be in support of it, if your Government started to get nasty.
We are not that far away from being under surveillance 24/7. What with camera’s at intersections, business’s, parking lots, highways, etc; etc;.
I don’t expect those in support of Government surveillance to understand how serious this issue is, because the mere fact that they support it shows their lack of understanding of the rights and freedoms of individuals.
You will note that most were in favour of surveillance for the down and outers at Third and George, however had little to say about putting these video’s in offices, banks, and other institutions where the big crimes are committed.
Some should take the time to understand the phrase.
**The road to hell is paved with good intentions**
Have a nice day.
Well said palopu.
Having video surveillance in restricted areas or buildings is in no way the same as using video surveillance of public spaces. Where would it all end?
Why bother with cameras? Our BS justice system just lets the guilty lowlifes walk free anyhow.
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