Surveillance State: Will CCTV Surveillance Make Accra Safer?

A couple of months ago, while I was sitting in my car at traffic, I got robbed of my cellphone. I had forgotten that my phone was placed on my passenger seat and someone had come over on my driver side and distracted me while his accomplice stole my phone.  If you’re been hearing stories of people stealing stuff from people’s cars by distracting them while in traffic, that’s exactly what happened to me.

I’ve heard a lot of stories from people who had their cars broken into, robbed at ATMs and in the streets and this stuff doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

Even though the Ghana Police have visibility patrols in the city, it seems that crime still prevails especially in areas where streetlights don’t function and police are not visible.

Police Visibility Unit

So would the prevalence of crime be curbed in Accra if it had a reliable CCTV monitoring network?

Big Brother

Closed Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) are camera devices which continuously transmit video feed to a monitoring source for surveillance. They’ve been used to follow up on reported crimes and identify suspects involved in those crimes.

CCTV use in the UK

The UK is famous for their use of CCTV cameras in crime detection and follow up. In 2009, 95% of Scotland Yard murder cases used CCTV footage as evidence. CCTV has also been used to identify people who have robbed people and stores.

Of course, there is a stigma when it comes to CCTV cameras. People used the term “Big Brother” because they feel like they are being spied on by their government. But interestingly enough, people in UK feel relatively safe with CCTVs.

CCTV Monitoring Room

CCTV camera footage is usually monitored in surveillance rooms. People sit in rooms and monitor the camera feeds for any suspicious activities.

In Accra, if you’re cruising around and you pay attention, there are CCTV cameras installed but they are not operational and have seemingly left for dead. They’re basically zombie cameras.

But will a resurrection of these cameras and perhaps more installations of CCTV cameras in public places help to reduce crime and catch criminals?

Or do we just say forget it, go our way and “pray” that stuff like being robbed doesn’t affect us?

Can CCTV Help Accra?

In the end, all it seems to come down to is money. But the cost of securing the city in my opinion should not really be a debate. The rise of homegrown terrorism is still on the rise and it’s not enough to “thank God” that we haven’t been affected.

On the other hand, the topic of CCTV camera installations could bring politics into the fray and topics about “spying” and “conspiracy” will be brought up.

If you thought the controversial spy bill was a big thing, imagine someone proposing installation of several CCTVs around Accra.

In the end, it’s about public safety. In my opinion, visibility of police vehicles isn’t enough. Criminals are getting smarter, more bolder and more aggressive.

Maybe CCTV surveillance can help make Accra safer if it’s done right.

Joseph-Albert Kuuire is the creator and editor of TechNovaGh.com, an online digital platform focusing on technology in Ghana.

Email: [email protected]