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PCSO Alan Winston of the Wanstead Safer Neighbourhoods Team believes CCTV is a great armament in the fight against crime. But how can CCTV be used most effectively by you?

Firstly, CCTV should be considered as one part of your crime prevention arrangement, along with an alarm system and secure doors and windows.

It is important to make sure there is adequate lighting at night for your cameras to record, and ensure that foliage does not obscure the image. The cameras need to be positioned up high so that they cannot be easily tampered with, but you also want criminals to see that you have CCTV in place. CCTV can deter antisocial behaviour outside your home and putting signs up displaying that you have CCTV may also help. Criminals will quite often knock on a door to see if anybody is home before committing a crime and there are systems on the market that will call your mobile phone with a live feed when somebody rings your doorbell.

Should a crime take place, the police will ask you to kindly provide them with a copy of your CCTV footage if it has captured anything that could help them with their investigation. Please learn how to use your system. Please also know how long footage is kept for on your system, how to produce a copy on DVD or USB and make sure the date and time are correct. This will assist the police in their investigation. If possible, write down important times during the event, for example, when the suspect entered the property, when the items were placed in a bag and the time they left.

Your home should be the primary focus of CCTV, with inward-facing cameras covering your front door, driveway and garden where applicable. However, it is important to know that if your cameras cover any areas beyond the boundaries of your own property, such as along the road where you park your car or a communal car park, they will no longer be exempt from the Data Protection Act (DPA) under Domestic Exemption. Registering your household CCTV system with the Information Commissioner's Office under the DPA costs £35 a year.

Last but not least, please be considerate to your neighbours when installing cameras. Be forthcoming if a crime has occurred in your street and check your CCTV for footage that could help catch the suspect. Never underestimate the value of good neighbours, who are likely to be the ones to call the police should something look out of place. Online Watch Link – which sends residents local crime alerts – is setting up a CCTV Watch so residents can check their systems when a crime has taken place in their area. Please sign up today (redbridgenhw.info).

A police contact point is located at Wanstead House every Wednesday and Thursday between 7pm and 8pm, and on Saturdays between 2pm and 3pm. For more information, call 020 8721 2796

For more information on CCTV, visit wavidi.co/cctv


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