Video surveillance scares off the street crime

Article published in Danish national newspaper 6 November 2003.


Intensive surveillance of schools and childcare centers in the municipality of Brøndby, Denmark, is putting an end to vandalism and theft. Within a few years, all their public buildings will be equipped with digital video cameras.

With a million kroner investment in infrared camera equipment, Brøndby municipality is succeeding in bringing down the amount of thefts, graffiti and smashed windows that have long created an unsafe environment in their schools, playgrounds and childcare institutions.

So-called 'small criminality' costs the municipality millions each year, but it's now being proven that intensive video surveillance makes the majority of vandals behave better.

This is why Brøndby is ready to invest a further 4.5 million kroner in surveillance, so all of the community's buildings can be equipped with 500 cameras over the next three years.

»There is a big need for video cameras at the same time there are less police on the streets. Those people who have a good conscience can't have any problems with the cameras. The recordings are only reviewed when there's been vandalism or theft,« says the mayor of Brøndby, Kjeld Rasmussen.

There was a long series of episodes with broken school windows, theft, and one particularly unpleasant example from a childcare insitute where a group of youngsters broke in and slaughtered the pets, spray painting the horses. This culminated in the municipality stepping in to respond.

Vandalism creates insecurity

»Personnel and children feel unsafe and insecure upon arriving in the morning to find broken windows,« explains Jørgen Nielsen, Risk Manager in the municipality's service department.

He does not have a total overview on the exact amount that vandalism and theft costs the municipality, but just last year they spent a million kroner on glass reparations alone.

Infrared light outside

The community buildings are monitored at night, on weekends and during holidays, when there are no personnel on site. The cameras are equipped with infrared light so they can record at night, and with digital image management software (from Milestone, ed.) it is possible to archive the recordings for investigations.

At this point there is only surveillance outside the buildings, but mayor Kjeld Rasmussen would like to see camera installations inside the shools and childcare institutions, as well.

»There is agreement in the municipality council that we should also have cameras inside the buildings. Personnel don't have to be afraid because the cameras aren't activated until they've gone home,« says Kjeld Rasmussen.

Vandalism down

The Vice Inspector at the local Police, Vagner Eliseholm, has no doubt that video cameras have brought down the amount of vandalism, in conjunction with the police's own preventive work with youth in the community.

»There have been problems with vandalism in Brøndby, but it is down to a more tolerable level now. The video cameras are a big help in our investigations,« he reports.

The Vice Inspector at the local Police, Vagner Eliseholm, has no doubt that video cameras have brought down the amount of vandalism, in conjunction with the police's own preventive work with youth in the community. »There have been problems with vandalism in Brøndby, but it is down to a more tolerable level now. The video cameras are a big help in our investigations,« he reports.