The installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras around the city is winding down and upon completion will pave the way for the primary monitoring site to be linked to key departments of the Guyana Police Force.
It is unclear what the timeline for this is.
The government’s decision to introduce CCTVs has been met with mixed reactions. However very little information has been released to the public to quell any lingering concerns.
Recently Stabroek News spoke to Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon who said that the installation process was almost complete.
He explained that out of the 40 plus sites “there are few, very few sites where cameras still need to be installed.” He said that close to 130 cameras have so far been installed and are functioning.
Some one hundred and thirty plus cameras are to be installed during this project.
Giving a preview of the plan for this year, Dr Luncheon said that “our plan is to have that information now from the primary monitoring site to seamlessly go to other law enforcement bodies, [such as the] Commis-sioner’s office, Brickdam [Police Station], Kitty [Police Station] and other places.”
The idea was, he said, to have live feed rather than having written or telephone information.
The idea of CCTV cameras has been in the making for some seven years. The first set of cameras was mounted sometime mid-last year and the process should have been completed before year end. Stabroek News was unable to ascertain what caused the delays.
No information has been released on the cost of the project and what model of camera is being used, or who would be monitoring the cameras and how the recordings were to be stored.
Luncheon had previously said that a plan had been put into effect for the linking of the cameras to the monitoring stations which would be established at the Headquarters of the Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) located on the lawns of Castellani House.
He had added that the cameras would cover places like banks, gas stations, locations where people congregate and transportation hubs like car parks and bus parks and the like.
He said that the anticipation was that the cameras would have a significant impact.
Early last November during the campaign period leading up to the general elections Rohee for the first time announced that the cameras were working and were being monitored by officials at the CIU.
This declaration came after PPP/C campaign manager Robert Persaud had said that a gang moving around in a black Tacoma vehicle was chopping down the party’s billboards and in some cases throwing paint on them. Persaud added that the CCTV cameras captured their actions and he called on the police to review the footage and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Rohee subsequently told reporters that he had requested the footage but had not yet received it. Months have passed and this information is yet to be released.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) shadow Home Affairs Minister Winston Felix told Stabroek News in a recent interview that the introduction of CCTV cameras was long overdue and if used correctly were something that could be of great benefit.
“Guyana is now catching up. A lot of cases and a lot of people involved in the drug trade are caught on CCTV in the United States,” he said, noting that this was so because the surveillance equipment was being monitored.
Felix who is a former police commissioner said that introduction of this to Guyana, “for me had taken too long. It should have there a very long time ago but now that we are on it I feel it is a good step but we must install all the cameras where they will bring maximum benefit.”
He contended that the cameras have to be placed in areas that were well known for crime, particularly all market areas.
He opined that these areas along with Main Street and around commercial banks should have been the first recipients of CCTV.
Focusing on a CCTV camera that is installed in the vicinity of the National Cultural Centre, Felix expressed the view that that one “could be redeployed since the biggest problem there is traffic.”
He said that the cameras could be used for both traffic and crime-related purposes. “My first shot would be a crime and drugs prevention/detection device,” he commented.
Further, Felix told Stabroek News that so far the issue had not been raised in Parliament. “I think it’s a good thing but we must use them properly for the right reasons,” he observed.