Could volunteers have greater role in reviewing CCTV footage for Hertfordshire Police?

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd was asked about the role the public could play

Sharp-eyed volunteers could be called on to play a role in police investigations in Hertfordshire – by helping to review increasing amounts of CCTV footage, it has emerged.

Across the county increasing numbers of homes and businesses are opting to install CCTV cameras.

And that means the chances of a crime or incident being captured on video is much higher than it would be in the past.

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Neighbourhood Watch in Hertfordshire has already set up ‘CCTV Watch’ – enabling residents and businesses to register their CCTV or video doorbells on a police database.

But collecting and viewing increasingly available footage can be increasingly time consuming for police officers or constabulary staff.

And at a virtual meeting of the Criminal Justice Board on Wednesday, September 29, Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd was asked about the role the public could play.

Hertfordshire Constabulary does already have a small number of ‘CCTV volunteers’ – recruited in 2018, whose work has been paused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But at the Board, Mr Lloyd highlighted his electoral commitment to expand the role of volunteers further.

In his election manifesto, Mr Lloyd had pledged to look at an expansion of the role of Neighbourhood Watch volunteers – particularly pointing to potential sources of video evidence from the public.

And at the Board meeting, he reported that discussions were already ongoing to determine how volunteers could help with the sifting of CCTV footage.

Mr Lloyd also reported that he had talked to the chief constable and senior leadership teams about the use of Neighbourhood Watch and other volunteers within the system.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has previously recruited a number of ‘police support volunteer CCTV reviewers’ based in Dacorum, Stevenage, St Albans and East Herts.

As part of that role, the volunteers would be asked to review CCTV images in respect of certain crime types, such as shoplifting.

And they would identify relevant sections which could then be referred on to a police officer – saving police officer time and resources.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions – the activities of the volunteers have had to be paused during the pandemic.

But, according to the Constabulary, the volunteers are being re-introduced to the offices.

And commenting on the contribution of volunteers to the Constabulary, a spokesperson said: “Hertfordshire Constabulary greatly appreciates the excellent work carried out by the hundreds of volunteers who contribute to policing in their communities.”