Residents Install Covert Cameras

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Councils across the UK are supplying householders with covert CCTV cameras so that they can amass evidence against nuisance neighbours. The devices are so small they can be hidden in pot plants or door frames and provide 24-hour surveillance to capture evidence of vandalism, threatening behaviour or abuse.

Councils in London, West Yorkshire, Northumberland and Dundee have introduced the schemes to help to secure antisocial behaviour orders, injunctions and criminal convictions. They follow government demands that local authorities crack down on antisocial behaviour.

The covert cameras, some no more than half an inch in diameter, can be hidden between the covers of books on windowsills facing the street or squeezed between door frames and brickwork.

However, CCTV technology does not come cheap, with the cameras and recording equipment costing up to £2,500. But, they are able to capture 28 days of non-stop activity, and some can also be accessed remotely by the councils’ antisocial behaviour taskforces so they can take immediate action or alert the police.

The CCTV installations have already seen good results:

  • One CCTV camera in Dundee fitted behind a door’s existing spy hole has already led to the conviction of a man who tried to smash through his neighbour’s front door with an axe;
  • A burglar in Rochdale was caught climbing in through the front window of a house by a CCTV camera set up to record less serious antisocial behaviour.

"Once we’ve got this footage it’s impossible to claim you didn’t do it," said Darren Kennedy, community safety officer at Kirklees council in West Yorkshire which has installed more than 20 covert cameras in houses and other locations since April. "Needless to say they end up with a conviction. It is never instead of other investigative work, but it speeds it up."

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