How surveillance cameras help police respond to crime in downtown London

Surveillance cameras have provided a lot of aid to London police, according to a new report. Derek Putz / Global News

Surveillance cameras at downtown London intersections continue to help London police respond to crime as it happens, and investigate crimes after they’ve happened.

A report going to the corporate services committee meeting Tuesday lists a handful of specific examples where the 17 camera system, launched in November 2001, helped identify robberies, assaults, property damage, drug offences and homicide investigations.

“It’s a great use of our budget and resources,” said Ward 14 councillor and committee member, Jared Zaifman.

READ MORE: London police release photo of man believed to have information in sex assault case

“This has been quite a helpful asset, and frankly from my perspective, when we look at the overall budget for the city, and try to have it safer downtown, $70,000 is really not so much,” Zaifman said.

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That’s the overall operating cost of the system, which has no staffing costs. The cameras are monitored daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The report says the number of occurrences have gone down in places there they’re installed;┬áthere’s also a decreased number of occurrences in the area surrounding the cameras, meaning the occurrences aren’t simply happening somewhere else.

It goes on to say the CCTV system helps police identify incidents at the early stages and allows them to intervene quickly, and it assists in investigations that take place after an incident.

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When a citizen reported an assault by someone working security downtown on January 27, 2017, London Police were able to look at the footage to see what happened.

The individual was taken to hospital by emergency services, but officers saw he’d been escorted off private property and he threw himself to the ground, intentionally hitting his head several times on the sidewalk.

No charges were laid because police determined the guard acted lawfully.

In other cited cases, footage helped police find someone with information in a sexual assault investigation, make several drug-trafficking-related arrests and quickly respond an unconscious man after three men were seen running and jumping into a vehicle in the Dundas Street and Richmond Street area.

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“These cameras are assisting in a lot of the instances that we have downtown, and making that downtown safer, which is the exact idea of the program,” said Zaifman.

Zaifman notes that the cameras are a financially efficient means of giving police more eyes on the downtown core.

He anticipates the conversation at Tuesday’s committee meeting will be about councillors perception of the program’s effectiveness and use.

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