Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Halifax police plan to use covert cameras in public places

Halifax Police plan to augment their network of surveillance cameras with hidden cameras in public places. Law abiding citizens have nothing to fear, according to the Mayor. Besides, the Mayor says, people are used to being surveilled on private property. What he doesn't seem to get is that private property is "private" property that you enter on the terms set out by the property owner. Public places do not have those stipuations. Or at least they shouldn't.

From the Halifax Chronicle Herald:

Police plan more camera surveillance - Nova Scotia News -

Halifax police intend to step up camera surveillance in public places, the city’s police chief said Tuesday.

Chief Frank Beazley said Halifax Regional Police officers will be using portable digital equipment in the near future to record images at "hot spots" in the municipality and public gatherings like rock concerts.

He told a city hall budget meeting the new gear won’t need to be installed — the police department already has fixed cameras at several locations — because police personnel will simply arrive at a potential trouble spot with cameras and leave with the pictures they’ve collected.

Mayor Peter Kelly supports more secret camera use at different sites. He said cameras tracking public goings-on are already a fact of life here and in other cities.

Asked if extra police snooping is an invasion of privacy, Mr. Kelly said law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear.

"For those who cause concern for others, you’ll have things to worry about," the mayor said, adding, additional surreptitious camera work will hopefully lead to crime prevention and the arrests of lawbreakers.

Mr. Kelly said people are routinely photographed on private property, such as banks, stores, parking lots and elsewhere, and the police plan to beef up surveillance at common areas used by many people makes sense.

Chief Beazley acknowledged the enhanced camera gear will be used at various locations throughout the city.

"If we have a hot spot — there’s crime going on in certain areas — we’re going to be able to take these mobile cameras and surreptitiously (use) them" without the knowledge of those being photographed, he told regional council’s committee of the whole.

Metro has seen a month of violent crime, including three murders. The most recent shootings in the city occurred Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Nobody was killed in either attack.

Saturday’s shooting took place at a house in a residential neighbourhood in Fall River, prompting RCMP to say police are concerned an innocent bystander could get hurt, or worse.

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