In his report tabled in Parliament today, acting auditor general – Glen Clarke – found the use of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) was having positive results but more could be done to fully benefit from the growing number of cameras across the state.
The audit examined the installation, management and use of CCTV cameras by the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and the Cities of Bunbury, Perth and Stirling, as well as WA Police use and management of CCTV cameras, information and footage.
“While CCTV is not a solution to crime or antisocial behaviour, it can assist when strategically installed, managed effectively and used in conjunction with other activities,” Mr Clarke said.
“PTA and the City of Bunbury can clearly demonstrate positive impacts from police responses to CCTV intelligence including a 50 per cent reduction in assaults on trains and a similar reduction in disorderly conduct in targeted areas of Bunbury.”
The audit found that installations and decisions to fund were based on the integration of CCTV into broader security strategies and most facilities examined were well managed.
Privacy issues around CCTV imagery are also generally well recognised and managed.
“One of the primary messages of this audit is that greater benefits could be realised through better sharing and more strategic use of CCTV information by police and local governments,” Mr Clarke said.
“While the Cities of Perth and Stirling are mostly managing their CCTV systems appropriately and effectively, they could achieve greater benefits by further coordinating their efforts with police.
“Neither city has a formal agreement in place with police. This has had an impact on how well the effectiveness of CCTV intelligence is assessed and used to guide policing strategies.”
The audit also identified serious weaknesses with the Blue Iris register – an initiative introduced by Police in 2009 to capture information about individual government and private sector CCTV installations so police can quickly identify, and readily access CCTV imagery that may be useful to an investigation.
“The Blue Iris register is currently unusable and there is the real risk that relevant images may not be available for investigations and use in court,” Mr Clarke said.
Government agencies have been instructed to submit the details of their CCTV cameras to the register and yet many are currently missing or incorrectly recorded.
Local governments and private organisations have been encouraged to submit the details of their cameras, but registration is voluntary.
“The police are working on fixing the issues with the register, however it needs to ensure that any technical improvements are supported by more vigorous recruitment of camera registrations, adequate administrative resources, effective deployment strategies and training for end users,” he said.
“The Blue Iris project has the potential to deliver significant benefits for police, the state and the wider community, however better management, administration and commitment are needed from police if these benefits are to be realised.”