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FIGHTING CRIME A TOP PRIORITY: CCTV cameras at hot spots
YOU'D remember this 1993 abduction-murder case in England of 2- year-old James Bulger whose mutilated body was found on a railway track.
After investigations, it was shockingly revealed through video images from surveillance cameras at the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, near Liverpool, that he was abducted not by an adult, but by two 11-year-old boys. They had lured him some 3km away, then tortured him before leaving him on the railway track.
Without the video images, an older pony-tailed man in whom the police had an interest earlier, would have been detained and perhaps charged with the crime.
Video images showed little James wandering by an open door of the shop where his mother was placing an order, and being spotted by Thompson and Venables. They were shown approaching the tot and talking to him before taking him by the hand and leading him out of the place. This moment was captured on a closed circuit television camera (CCTV).
That image was shown on television and published in newspapers. The breakthrough came when a woman, on seeing slightly enhanced images of the two boys on national television, recognised one of them, Jon Venables, whom, she knew, had played truant with Robert Thompson that fateful day. She contacted police and the boys were arrested.
That was 1993. Although the video images were of low resolution, perpetrators were identified and caught. Thank God for the surveillance camera.
On Sept 17, 2007, a CCTV caught a motorcyclist dumping a sports bag in front of shoplot in Petaling Jaya. Because it was a poor quality CCTV, the image was blurred. So neither the man's face nor his motorcycle registration number could be identified. The bag contained the brutalised and murdered body of missing 8-year-old girl Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. It is reported that Britain is one of the most monitored countries in the world, with an estimated four million CCTV cameras nationwide. That means one for every 14 people, with one million in London alone.
I am not recommending that Malaysia install CCTV cameras at every nook and corner of buildings and streets in cities and towns. Besides, it is heartening to note that when the government launched its transformation programme in 2010, crime fighting was made a top priority.
The government had taken note of the rising crime indices and responses to public polling that crime was the second most important issue of concern to the rakyat. Crime had become one of the foremost issues on the minds of the people. It will continue to be so.
During the transformation period, a total of 496 additional CCTVs were installed throughout Malaysia with specific emphasis on four hot spots -- Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor.
At the same time, crime awareness and prevention campaigns and a safe city programme were launched. Some of the measures were to install street lighting in hot spots and provide more police patrolling in these areas.
While CCTVs do not prevent crime per se, they are tools to assist in crime fighting. And they make people feel safer although in Britain the question of privacy is being debated.
Most importantly, they help identify criminals and perpetrators, especially in kidnap and robbery cases.
After news of the kidnapping of 12-year-old Mont Kiara International School pupil Nayati Shamelin Moodliar was publicised, a school in Petaling Jaya was reported to have called for a parent-teacher-association meeting to discuss security measures for pupils. I hope that installing CCTV cameras was suggested and unreservedly agreed on.
Schools, recreational areas and shopping centres are among the places that should have CCTVs installed.
The police in Liverpool, England, back in 1993 were not able to prevent James Bulger's brutal murder. But even back then, with the help of technology, they caught his killers.
The Education Ministry should set aside an allocation for installation of CCTVs in schools. As a start, select certain schools in certain areas.
Yesterday, Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the ministry would review guidelines on safety and security in schools following Nayati's abduction.
Let's hope installing CCTV cameras in schools will be included in the review.
Meanwhile, I hope Nayati's kidnappers will be caught soon.