CCTV Helped Us Get Justice
Crime victims in Sussex and their relatives have been speaking out about how CCTV footage used by the police helped get them justice.
Murder of Andrea Waddell
When 29-year-old Andrea Waddell was brutally murdered in her home in Upper Lewes Road, Brighton on 15 October last year, her murderer, Neil McMillan tried to cover his tracks. After strangling Andrea he set fire to the house. He then went home, stripped off his clothing and put it in the washing machine, before taking a shower.
When he was arrested he denied he was anywhere near the murder scene that night. However CCTV clearly shows him in the Lewes Road, very close to Andrea's house. The court experience was very traumatic for Andrea's mother Sonia Waddell:
"We were sitting behind McMillan in court and it was very difficult. But when the CCTV footage was shown - there was no doubt that it was McMillan and the crucial timings put him near Andrea's flat, which is something he kept denying. I also think the showing of the CCTV footage was crucial for the jury's verdict. They came back after only one hour and asked to view it a second time before reaching their verdict."
McMillan was found guilty of murder and will serve a minimum of twenty-two years.
This experience has changed Sonia Waddell's attitude to the use of CCTV:
"Prior to Andrea's death I did think of CCTV in a 'Big Brother' way. But at the same time I felt that most people who have nothing to hide and aren't on the wrong side of the law have nothing to worry about. However, CCTV was a vital component in the trial of my daughter's murder and without it I believe we would not have got the justice that Andrea deserved.
"We sincerely hope that with all the proposed cost savings that CCTV is not affected. In fact, I hope the quality of images improves and it goes on to help other victims of crime."
Listen to Heart's interview with Sonia Waddell
Manslaughter of Stuart Slade
On 30 December 2008, Stuart Slade, 35, was stabbed by Michael Bishop, 24, in the street in Hampton Place, Brighton. He was left to bleed to death.
Two passages of CCTV footage were vital in arresting and convicting Bishop for Stuart's manslaughter and getting a sentence of twelve years. One was from an ATM cash machine, and the second was from inside a bar.
After the killing Bishop fled the country to Northern Cyprus, but ATM footage from Croydon several months later proved he was back in the country and helped Sussex Police officers to trace him and arrest him.
At first Bishop claimed not to know who Stuart was. Later he claimed he had tried to engage with Stuart, and that the later stabbing was an attempt at self-defence.
But the second vital piece of CCTV footage from the Kitchen Bar in Preston Street, shortly before the attack, shows Bishop watching Stuart all night, sometimes from only half a foot away.
Maureen Boyling, mother of Stuart Slade says: "Watching the CCTV in court made my blood run cold. It showed Bishop watching my son all evening waiting to pounce. It illustrated how calculating he was. He even made calls to Helen, Stuart's ex-girlfriend to check if Stuart had a mark on his face."
Before Stuart's tragic death Maureen Boyling didn't really have a strong view on CCTV use:
"Until my son's death, I had never given CCTV a great deal of thought. There were lots of cameras out there and they served a purpose. But when Stuart was attacked the CCTV was so valuable and important to the trial of Michael Bishop and in getting us justice."
CCTV use and independent scrutiny
There are some four hundred public space CCTV cameras throughout the county. Operated and funded by the Sussex CCTV Partnership, a unique joint approach by Sussex Police and 17 local authorities, they are used to combat all sorts of crimes from manslaughter to shoplifting. After a two million pound upgrade during the last year, Sussex Police now has one of the most advanced CCTV network of any police force in the country, both from the number of cameras available and the quality and accessibility of those cameras to officers trying to act quickly to detect crime or identify criminals.
Inspector Roger Fox, who oversees the CCTV system on behalf of the partnership, says: "Officers can now search CCTV in custody centres and major police stations and present suspects with footage of themselves in the act within minutes of their arrival."
In 2009/2010 the Sussex Police CCTV team monitored over 35,000 incidents across the County and 1,055 arrests were made as a direct result of CCTV action. And the CCTV team gathered contributory evidence and monitored officer safety in a further 2,061 arrests.
In order to make sure that all Sussex Police CCTV facilities are used responsibly and in a proper manner, the Police Authority has set up the Independent CCTV Monitoring Scheme. This means the facilities are monitored and verified in "spot checks" carried out by twelve entirely independent members of the public to ensure compliance with legislation and Codes of Practice. These checks can take place at any time of the day or night, without prior warning.
Godfrey Daniel, Sussex Police Authority's Lead Member for CCTV, says, "I understand why CCTV provokes strong emotions from the public but I am delighted that we are able to demonstrate here some of the very positive benefits of CCTV. Through our Independent CCTV Monitoring Scheme the Authority hopes to provide some reassurance to the public that CCTV is used in the correct manner and that the civil rights of the public are preserved. The scheme aims to make sure that the valuable work being done by the CCTV operators in Sussex is done so as transparently as possible and with independent oversight from the Authority and its volunteers."