Monday, June 06, 2005

Bautista to reiterate support for cameras as crime deterrent

PCCG meeting tonight

Police Community Consultative Group will be holding their annual general meeting tonight to discuss various long-standing issues such as the installation of CCTV cameras and the problem of anti-social behaviour in a changing society.

The importance of education in the family will be another of the issues raised.

Speaking to the Chronicle, chairman Joe Bautista said the group was a listening post for the police that allowed for interaction with the community, plus the exchange of information to identify and solve problems capable of being solved.

But Mr Bautista points to the group’s limitations in terms of “a lack of clout,” and would like to see greater representation of the community within the PCCG which currently has 28 members.

He also notes the absence of certain key government departments in the consultative group such as the Traffic Commission.

Although this seems an unwieldy number of representatives already, Mr Bautista states that discussions are kept down to essentials and certainly on a completely apolitical basis.

“There is a weakness in the system. We are not part of the administration or of the police so we can only make recommendations and rely on the goodwill of other departments,” said Mr Bautista.

Another of the important issues that will be dealt tonight is the standing of the police in terms of having access to private housing estates, whether they need an invitation or not to intervene or patrol these areas. Mr Bautista said clarity was needed on this key issue.

On the question of the CCTV cameras, he said there were many aspects to consider such as cost, location, and for example whether it would be a monitoring or immediate prevention device or both, and stated that no proper study had been carried out. Its appropriate use and guarantees against misuse were also important.
Mr Bautista suggests a non-onerous mobile system that was capable of being adapted for different situations that could be used to record and also as a deterrent at specific locations, could be set up for a trial period. He said there was no perfect argument in favour of CCTV but that on balance it would be to the community’s benefit to have cameras.

“This would be a welcome tool in a kit of tools that you would not use unless you had to,” he declared.

Meanwhile there is a feeling in the group that the Gibraltar Government has given too much emphasis on updating legislation and transposing EU directives into the statute book, to the detriment of more mundane legislation. For example on CCTV cameras where the government’s standard reply for a number of years now, has been that it is preparing legislation.

Greater attention to the Traffic Ordinance – at present the tendency is not to take action until something happens – and to the fines system which is frustrating both to the victim and the police, was also required.

Proper road markings, more pelican crossings and the problems posed by motorbikes ‘invading’ car spaces will also be examined.

There will also be a talk on civic responsibility and education by Principal Youth Officer Jaime Felices and one on CCTV by Andres Abrines.

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