Intelligent Security provides assistance to Police and Neighbourhood Watch.
Rural crime is once again on the increase. But this time with a difference. Significant numbers of those with evil intent seem to have little care about the consequences of their action on others, are undeterred by current security measures and even less worried about the speed at which they are likely to be caught. With Police budgets squeezed, the problem is unlikely to get better.
Typical of the problem is the small village of Packington, in the heart of rural Leicestershire, once a hotbed of imported crime, but no longer.
Until recently cars and motorbikes, stolen from Derby and Nottingham, were regularly left in the quiet streets while the thieves noted if they had tracking devices or decided what to do with them. Unbeknown to the villagers, this had more than likely been going on for years.
In one short period, there were many burglaries, including one where the family had returned home to find people inside their house—the worst possible scenario—making the average village home insurance rated as high as many city centres.
The quiet and rural nature of the village recognised by those with evil intent.
Police and the local community got together to formulate a plan; a traditional, typical late-twentieth-century one.
First, a small Neighbourhood Watch group reformed. Unrecognised vehicles had their numbers recorded and passed to the Police. However, in most cases, they were not yet reported stolen, and understandable delays in processing the report meant the vehicle had moved on by the time action was taken.
In the same way, Neighbourhood Watch kept an eye on strangers, and descriptions logged, again, without much success; the Police are too busy to investigate every report.
Reported incidents continued to climb.
At about the same time, a local business - VSaaS (Video Surveillance as a Service) had been employing CCTV cameras in a novel way to protect industrial areas and small towns in Belgium and Holland. The technology uses unused bandwidth found on most connections and strategically placed cameras to capture extremely high-quality images and send those images to a central virtual recording system.
A resident of Packington, reading a release in a Dutch newspaper led to a discussion with the company. Subsequently, VSaaS agreed to trial the system in Packington.
The village CCTV scheme, costing significantly less than comparable town centre ones, was led by the enthusiastic supporter of technology, Dr Wesley Ewing. Soon after becoming operational, Police called on the system to assist. The first of many.
A villager, employing what he thought were bona fide contractors received an invoice for considerably more than the quotation. When he challenged the invoice threats were made, and demands of cash payment followed. The Police asked for evidence that the contractors were in the village at the time the victim said they were, and the system was not only able to prove that but also show images of the men involved. Police made arrests, and the success noted.
Since then the Police have requested many images of vehicles. Some to track missing people and some to check general movement and damage. As well as the perennial problem of fly-tipping, where the CCTV images have shown that vehicles pass through the village loaded but return shortly afterwards empty. Suspicious vehicles are having vehicle details supplied to the local council for investigation and consequential warning.
The CCTV has assisted a Police covert team monitor a situation and successfully alert when a vehicle moved as well as provide crucial evidence in the successful resolution of at least one burglary.
Dr Ewing had this to say about the trial. "It is evident that this works. VSaaS adds real weight to the neighbourhood watch scheme. The dramatic reduction in stolen vehicle movement shows that bad guys do talk amongst themselves, and I am equally sure the successful events have the same effect on burglars. Next step for us is to formally adopt the system and add a couple more of the cameras for which we are looking for sponsorship.
I should also say that the system is almost invisible, there are no towers often associated with this type of thing, it isn't easy, even when deliberately looking, to spot the cameras.
What surprised me most about VSaaS is the support we have received from the ICO, the information commissioner's office. As a small council, we expected to have difficulty in gaining approval, but that wasn't the case. They were a great help in us understanding how we could use the CCTV and how we protect the privacy of people going about their daily lives.
I would say the same about the Police, they know we have a system and their requests, whilst often confusing to us, show that they understand the value of this for general local use but also on the broader scheme county-wide and possibly nationally."
Adam Berry, speaking for the supplier and designers of the system, says "We often have had great difficulty explaining the technology to town and city CCTV planners in the UK. The legacy of poor design from the 1980s has led to a somewhat distorted view of what surveillance security should provide. And the value it needs to bring to the community.
Systems like this record on activity, it is using Ai to determine what is necessary to record, without the budget of tens of thousands, often hundreds of thousands and that do not deliver the same benefits as this small system.
And, we know that the frustration of the Police is that expensive pan and tilt cameras are often looking in the wrong direction when an incident occurs. Intelligent cameras, like ours, are cheaper to own and operate, which means more cameras for the same budget with more, and better, coverage. The capacity for number plate recognition and high definition, enabling visual proof of the person conducting the crime, as installed at Packington, demonstrates success is not dependent on the money you spend. But the intelligence you deploy."