This post was first published by My London on 08/03/2019.
Croydon to get new CCTV cameras but will they help stop knife crime?
Many wanted the old system replaced after tragic teenage stabbings.
Croydon’s out of date CCTV system is set to be upgraded – The current system is 25 years old.
It’s a move which will be welcomed after a series of tragic teenage stabbings in the borough in 2017.
One of the stabbings led to a murder trial which collapsed because of lack of evidence.
17-year-old Aren Mali , a promising footballer, died after he suffered a fatal stab wound to his neck on North End in October 2017.
But in March last year the jury sitting in Aren Mali’s murder trial were unable to reach a verdict of guilty or not guilty for the teen accused of murdering him because of a lack of evidence.
Following his death, Croydon Central MP, Sarah Jones, called for there to be more CCTV at key hotspots within the town, such as the stretch in Croydon town centre near McDonald’s where the teenager died .
And after the death of Jermaine Goupall, who was stabbed in Thornton Heath in August 2017, hundreds of residents highlighted the lack of permanent CCTV in the area along Green Lane, the parade and surrounding side streets by signing a petition calling for more safety measures.
A meeting this week heard that CCTV currently being used in Croydon was installed in the 1990s.
And now £2m is being invested in giving it a much needed upgrade.
At a meeting of the council’s scrutiny and overview committee, Councillor Robert Ward asked if anything more can be done to improve coverage in Croydon .
But he was keen to point at that more CCTV alone will not solve the problems of knife crime.
He said: “I often find with residents they think if we get CCTV in it will solve the problem and in fact CCTV is actually very cheap and powerful, but the actual blocker to me seems to be that we can’t put things into public spaces without a risk assessment.
“Is there anything we should be pushing for in terms of legislative change, or can we push the boundaries in some way?”
But he added: “There’s a mismatch between what residents are expecting and what it does actually achieve.”
The council’s cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities said there is a balance between privacy and safety which needs to be managed.
Councillor Hamida Ali also acknowledged that the effects of CCTV isn’t the whole answer to stopping violence on the streets of Croydon.
She said: “In the wake of Aren Mali’s murder on October 29 2017, the Croydon BME forum held a public meeting a handful of days after and I remember getting challenged very vociferously, understandably, about CCTV.
“I think what’s interesting in the context of serious youth violence is the role that CCTV has come to play.
“Often young people aren’t necessarily going to come forward and give evidence if they may know who has done this which puts so much reliance on CCTV.”
She added that making sure there is a good relationship between police and young people is ‘so important’ to make sure there are credible witnesses in these cases
“So that bringing these perpetrators to justice isn’t reliant on whether there is a camera in the near vicinity,” she added.
Anthony Lewis, head of community safety at Croydon Council, said: “We have a £2m infrastructure programme to refresh and update all of our CCTV infrastructure.
“Like many other councils, ours is of the nineties vintage it’s about 25 years old, if not older.
“It will massively improve our coverage and our capabilities.
“CCTV is good for certain things but actually preventing violent crime isn’t one of them.
“It is very useful for helping police solve a crime after it happens but it won’t actually prevent serious youth violence.
“That is quite a consistent message we are constantly having to push back not just to residents but ward councillors – It isn’t the silver bullet as some people think it is.”