Cameras in patrol cars boost policing

Police will soon be viewing accident and crime scenes via a live video feed from 260 patrol cars using a citywide system introduced in Dubai.

Police will soon be viewing accident and crime scenes via a live video feed from 260 patrol cars using a citywide system introduced in Dubai yesterday. Cameras mounted on cars, linked to the operations room using wireless technology, allowed officers to view incidents as they unfolded, officials said. It would give them the information they needed to make decisions on how to deploy resources, said Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the Dubai Police chief.

"This new system will speed up the decision-making process, as police officers will be able to evaluate the situation on the ground much closer and take the necessary measures much quicker," he said. About 15 per cent of the police patrol capacity will be equipped with a camera by the end of this year. The new system will encompass all types of patrols. The camera begins operating as soon as the vehicle's engine starts. Officers in the operations room can monitor it at any time. Footage will be archived for use in investigations.

The technology was first introduced in a pilot project in October 2008, and a wider deployment began in June 2009. The system will be fully operational this year. At present, the system does not provide sound, but officials hope to introduce it. Although the system would be effective in handling traffic accidents and assessing the reasons behind them, it would not be used to catch traffic offenders, Lt Gen Tamim said.

"This year is the year of information technology for Dubai Police," he said. "We will develop several surveillance technologies to enhance public security." Police in Abu Dhabi yesterday blamed tailgating drivers for 69 accidents in the emirate over the past three months. Two of the accidents involved fatalities. The disclosure came at the launch of a campaign to reduce tailgating, which involves motorists driving too close to the vehicle in front.

Col Hamad al Shamsi, the director of Abu Dhabi Traffic Police, said two people died and 61 were injured in the accidents, which involved 106 people. Fifty drivers aged 18 to 45 caused most of the accidents. Officers who launched the "Leave Space Before It's Too Late" campaign said tailgating was one of the main causes behind serious accidents. Col al Shamsi said an analysis of accidents over the three months demonstrated an increase in the number of crashes caused by tailgating, although no exact figures were available.

When drivers got too close to the car in front, honking and flashing their lights for the vehicle in their lane to move, the driver ahead could lose concentration, increasing the chances of an accident, Col al Shamsi said. With their "aggressive" attitude, tailgaters could become "potential murderers", he added. As part of the campaign, police will increase traffic patrols, especially in unmarked cars, throughout Abu Dhabi. The move is aimed at catching tailgaters and making motorists aware of the police presence. Police have said they will use unmarked cars as well as taxis and lorries in the sweeps.

The penalty for tailgating is a Dh400 (US$108) fine and four black points.