Sunday 15 September, 2019

Make CCTV systems mandatory for businesses, submits Champagnie

Peter Champagnie

Peter Champagnie

One of the country’s more prominent defence attorney is calling for the Government to foster legislation that requires the operators of certain types of businesses to have closed circuit cameras (CCTV) mounted and operational on and around their premises.

Attorney Peter Champagnie, in a letter to the editor of Loop News, has argued that the current climate in which citizens of the country continue to be murdered in public spaces close to established places of business without fear of their deeds being caught on camera because of an absence of enough surveillance equipment, is a major cause for concern.

“The current climate in which the Brandon Murrays, the Ramdials and other persons of far less note or notoriety are murdered in public spaces close to business enterprises requires the anti-crime programme to include the implementation of a Public Surveillance Act,” said Champagnie in the correspondence.

To effect this change, the attorney is calling for the implementation of legislation which would make it mandatory for business operators, based on their classification, to have surveillance cameras on their places of business, with failure to do so exposing them to a potential fine in court.

In responding to likely concerns from business interests about the cost for them to acquire and establish surveillance systems, Champagnie had a ready answer.

“Under such a scheme, business operators could also benefit from a tax break in respect of the acquisition of such cameras, and appropriate feed from these cameras could be automatically fed into the Government’s public surveillance network,” said Champagnie.

“In effect, it would be the actualisation of the theme of George Orwell’s epic novel, 1984, in which ‘Big Brother’ would be watching us all,” the well-known legal figure elaborated.

“There is merit in this after all if Jamaica is to achieve its vision as the place of choice to live, raise a family and do business. The conventional approach of highlighting problems (locally) without (presenting) constructive solutions really must cease,” said Champagnie.

He also spoke about the known elements of the Government’s ongoing anti-crime programme in the way of Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) and states of emergency measures, which he cited as having had some positive impact.

“This is evident by the significant numbers of firearms that have been recovered within the areas of the anti-crime initiatives,” said Champagnie.

However, he noted that with the parliamentary Opposition, through its Spokesperson on National Security, suggesting that the Anti-Crime measures are now losing their sting, the Government cannot afford to relent on the implementation of the enhanced security measures.

“What is required is to capitalise on the gains that have been achieved by improving upon the methodology of these programmes. Of significance in this regard is the Jamaica EYE initiative, a programme geared at island-wide surveillance coverage through a network of cameras in public spaces.  Currently, the operation and success of this programme is contingent on the voluntary participation of citizens,” which Champagnie cited as a weakness of the programme in its current form.

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