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CCTV might soon be allowed in court

CCTV might soon be allowed in court

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Video footage from Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance cameras may soon be admitted as evidence in the Law courts here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams, on Wednesday, April 7, 2009, told Searchlight that even though such footage is not admissible in our courts, the proper foundation has never been laid for it to be admitted. “Just like everything in evidence, you have to lay the proper grounds before you can go forward,” stated the DPP. He noted that certain criteria must be met before a judge decides to allow the camera footage to be used.

Reference was drawn to the Cell World burglary matter that was recently brought before the High Court, in which a security camera was involved. The judge at the time disallowed the evidence from the camera since it was not established who was in custody of the videotape throughout the investigations. Williams pointed out that that there are two main thresholds that must be met, which include ensuring proper custody and eliciting statements at the time of obtaining the tape from the cameras.

Admitting that it would be very useful once it is implemented, the DPP acknowledged that there might be hiccups. “It will be more compelling for the prosecution if we have to use it, but investigators would have to be better prepared in dealing with it,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, head of the Criminal Investigations Department Brinsley Ballanytne noted that he would like to see legislation passed allowing such evidence to be admitted in court cases. “It is a vital piece of evidence which will be able to help in solving a lot of crimes here in this country,” Ballantyne noted.

According to the Ballanytne, it does not make sense for business places to secure their buildings with high priced surveillance equipment and they can’t be used in court.

On March 10 this year, Commissioner of Police Keith Miller held a meeting with managers of major financial institutions to discuss security concerns for their businesses. Miller urged the business leaders to invest in CCTV to protect their businesses from perpetrators. He noted that even though he footage could not be used as evidence, it would help the police in their investigations.(KW)