Setback for Tiruchy police as 50 per cent of CCTV cameras in city conk out

A case in point is the 360-degree camera installed by the city corporation at Chathiram Bus Stand.
A CCTV camera on Pudukkottai Road whose very positioning raises doubts over its usage
A CCTV camera on Pudukkottai Road whose very positioning raises doubts over its usage(Photo | MK Ashok Kumar)

TIRUCHY: In a setback to maintenance of law and order in Tiruchy, nearly 50% of the CCTV cameras set up by the police department across the city have been non-functional over the past three months. With sources mentioning a majority of such faulty surveillance cameras being in crime-prone pockets, demands have risen from various quarters for their immediate repair or replacement.

A total of 1,145 CCTV cameras, including 20 under the Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) and 31 for automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR), have been installed in areas falling under the limits of the city’s 14 police stations. About 800 of the cameras are maintained by private companies in lieu of advertising rights while the remaining CCTV cameras were installed and are being maintained by other sponsors and the police. A total of 509 of the cameras across the city, however, have not been functional for over three months, the police said.

With sources stating the crime-prone and communally sensitive northern and central parts of Tiruchy accounting for a majority of the faulty cameras, police surveillance and investigation take a hit, particularly in the event of a crime or an accident. While road construction works, monkey menace and the rains are cited as factors turning the CCTV cameras faulty, claims emerge that a lack of their maintenance is to blame too.

Consumer Rights Movement general secretary Maheswari Vaiyapuri said, "The cameras fail to serve their purpose as they get damaged or turn faulty quite often. The fact that 50% of the CCTV cameras are malfunctioning indicates poor maintenance of the infrastructure responsible for curbing crime in the city. This security lapse is unacceptable. This will also lead to an increase in the number of crimes."

A senior crime police official said, "Every police station receives two or three complaints of theft of mobile phones, purses or bags every day, especially at bus stands. When we head for inspection, the CCTVs cameras at the spot either are found not working or the footage is not recorded. We only realise that the cameras are not working when there is an incident. We hence have to check at least 15 cameras when investigating an incident. This causes a delay in case registration and arrest of the culprits."

Mentioning the investigation in about 75% of the cases taking a hit from non-functional CCTV cameras, the official said, “Unexpected problems like video recording not having worked on a particular day or hour occur while checking the CCTV cameras. Most cameras are of poor quality, as a result of which the faces and vehicles of the criminals cannot be identified properly. Old cameras should at least be replaced."

Another police official said, "Most times we have to rely on private buildings’ cameras. Sometimes they are also not maintained properly." A case in point is the 360-degree camera installed by the city corporation at Chathiram Bus Stand. “When we approached the authorities to access it in connection with a crime a few months ago, they said the footage couldn’t be played," a police source said.

When contacted, Tiruchy city Commissioner of Police N Kamini told TNIE, "Some of the cameras in the city limits are not working. They were installed by sponsors and have become outdated. We are taking steps to replace them."

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