Public Surveillance CCTV

Notice

Background

In November of 2009, The Cornwall Community Police Service submitted a grant application through the Civil Remedies Grant Program to secure funding for the purchase and installation of a public surveillance CCTV network in the City of Cornwall. The grant application was approved and the CCPS received over $100,000 in July 2010 from the Ministry of the Attorney General for this initiative.

It is proposed that, in support of the vision statement of the Cornwall Community Police Service, "A Safer Cornwall, reducing crime always" that 6 cameras be purchased and installed within the city on a three-year pilot period. It is further proposed that the effectiveness of the CCTV Public Surveillance Project be measured during this time period to determine the effect on enhancing a sense of safety among the public who use Cornwall’s downtown areas, and further to measure its deterrent effect on the commission of crime in the areas under surveillance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is public video surveillance legal in Canada?

A: No Canadian Jurisdiction has not yet passed legislation that explicitly addresses public camera surveillance. Various federal and provincial freedoms of information and privacy statutes provide broad authority for information collection in the name of law enforcement, but it is unclear whether these statutes are capable of specifically authorizing public camera surveillance. Until the Courts have an opportunity to rule on whether this authorization is valid, existing surveillance use is "legal."

Q: How will these cameras be used?

A: Once CCTV cameras are installed and activated, the CCPS plans to use what is called "passive monitoring" of the cameras. In other words, CCPS members generally will not be watching the camera images in real time, as the images are being captured. Rather, the images will be captured and recorded, then used by the police to investigate and solve crimes if criminal activity is reported in the areas where the cameras are situated.

Q: Are the camera placements permanent?

A: Not necessarily. These cameras will be deployed in strategic areas within the city and may be relocated from time to time in order to address the current trends in crime. If crime patterns shift, the CCPS can move the cameras to new locations.

Q: Will the cameras be used to see into homes or other buildings?

A: No. CCTV cameras observe public spaces only, where the courts have held there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Q: Do these cameras have audio monitoring/recording capabilities?

A: No. CCTV cameras are not equipped with audio monitoring or recording capabilities.

Q: How will the CCPS use these videos? Will other people have access to these video recordings?

A: Policies and procedures on the use and disclosure of video recording shall be made in accordance with the guidelines established by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Audits shall be conducted periodically to ensure compliance with these established practices.

Looking at the Numbers...

According to a 2009 statistical review of calls for service, the data indicated that based on population, the number of calls for service in Area 6 (Le Village) is twice the average, compared to other zones within the city with the exception of Area 5 (Downtown Business Area) which is five times the average number of calls for service.

The table below outlines current calls for service in
Areas 1, 5 & 6 compared to the rest of the City of Cornwall.

Year Area 1 % of Total Calls Area 5 % of Total Calls Area 6 % of Total  Calls Other Areas
2008 5325 25 1812 9 456 2 13641
2009 4643 23 1003 5 275 1 14074
2010 YTD 3122 27 560 5 227 2 7502

 

The table below shows the rate of calls based on population.
The population as per the City of Cornwall is 45,965 (2006)
Area 1 population is noted as 10,429,
Area 5 - 402 and Area 6 - 363.

Year # of Calls (Per 10 People) Area 1 # of Calls (Per 10 People) Area 5 # of Calls  (Per 10 People) Area 6 # of Calls  (Per 10 People)  Cornwall
2008 5 39 13 5
2009 5 22 8 4
2010 YTD 3 13 6 3

 


Click on map to enlarge.

Purpose and Principles of Monitoring

The key purpose of the Cornwall Public Surveillance CCTV Project is to promote public safety in the downtown areas of the City of Cornwall.

The goals of the Cornwall Public Surveillance CCTV Project are:

  • to contribute to the safe environment of the downtown areas;
  • to assist as one of the components of the downtown areas revitalization efforts; and,
  • to improve the ability of the Cornwall Community Police Service and community to respond to crime and anti-social behaviour occurring in Cornwall’s downtown areas.

The objectives of the Cornwall Public Surveillance CCTV Project are:

  • to deter crime and anti-social behaviour;
  • to increase the perception of safety; and,
  • to use camera images as evidence to identify suspects involved in criminal activities.

Many business owners support cameras

In Toronto, many business owners have been particularly supportive of the police installing CCTV cameras. Some have even offered to help pay for the pilot program, although it's $2 million cost is being picked up by the province. "If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about," John Kiru of the Toronto Area Business Improvement Association told the Globe and Mail. "I'm of the view that this (CCTV program) is the right thing to do."

Law enforcement officials say video surveillance can be both a deterrent to crime and a valuable forensic tool. Cameras are highly visible and might stop a mugger or a rapist. If an offense is committed within view of police cameras, investigators can pore over video images to find clues and suspects.

Statistics from U.S. cities that use video surveillance point to reductions in crime in areas where cameras are installed. Civil libertarians have counter-arguments to these and other points made by those in favour of video surveillance but the fact remains that the public in Canada and elsewhere wants crime deterred, and offenders caught. High-profile cases like the London Underground bombings or the Creba slaying in Toronto tend to ramp up support for police CCTV programs. Canadians may not be sleepwalking to British levels of video surveillance, but life in Canadian cities is definitely becoming more camera-friendly.

Click here to download a CCTV Pamphlet.

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