HCM CITY (VNS) — Once the hotspot in Go Vap District for local crimes, prostitution and drug addicts shooting up in alleys, Ward 12 today has seen a sharp drop in the crime rate after the installation of 300 surveillance cameras.
Installed on electrical posts in the alleys, the cameras were funded completely by voluntary donations from Ward 12 residents.
Pham Thi Kim Lien, who lives in Alley 284, a once-favoured spot for criminals, said: "We can view the camera images from our smartphones and while we're on holiday, too."
While residents can access the camera placed in their alley by entering the IP address in their web browser, the police are able to see images from all the cameras in the network.
"The surveillance camera network has helped our security," Lien said.
Nguyen Ngoc Tung, head of the neighbourhood watch group in the ward's seventh quarter, said that he had once spotted addicts and non-residents loitering in Alley 284 after watching the control display at the quarter's headquarters.
He and a few neighbours immediately ran to the alley and asked the people to leave, and they complied.
The ward of 55,000 residents, the largest in the district, has faced difficulties in ensuring social order and security, according to Lieutenant Colonel Le Thanh Hung, head of the ward police.
In August 2013, it began asking residents in Cay Mai alley and owners of three rows of rented rooms in the sixth quarter to donate money to install cameras in the area. Many of the residents agreed.
Cay Mai had been a popular place for addicts to inject drugs with needles because the alley is often deserted, Hung said.
After six months, the number of robberies, drug dealers and addicts shooting up drugs on Cay Mai alley fell to nearly zero, he said.
Besides these areas, cameras have also been installed on the streets of Tan Son and Phan Huy Ich, where prostitutes had solicited customers and coffee shops offered prostitution services.
The cameras have helped police discover and fine street prostitutes.
As a result, the prostitutes no longer stand in the area, and most of the coffee shops have closed as the pimps were afraid they would be recorded.
Besides criminals, the ward police have also been able to identify hit-and-run drivers who had caused traffic accidents resulting in fatalities.
Drop in crime
More than 60 per cent of the total number of crimes reported in the district were discovered via 1,200 surveillance cameras, all of which were funded by local residents, according to district police.
In the first six months of the year, the district recorded 188 crimes, a decrease of five compared to the same period last year. During that time, 92 robberies occurred in the district, compared to 35 against last year.
"It is very important to raise awareness about taking the initiative in crime prevention and security protection," Hung said.
At a meeting on the efficiency of the camera network in Go Vap District last Friday, Colonel Huynh Ngoc Phuong, a representative of the Ministry of Public Security, praised Ward 12's camera-surveillance network and the efforts that had been made by local residents and police.
He said the model should be expanded to many localities.
Hung said that officials from HCM City districts 7, Nha Be, Binh Tan and Thu Duc visited Ward 12 to examine the model. They later installed cameras on streets and alleys that had a high rate of crime. The neighbouring province of Binh Duong also studied Go Vap District's surveillance model and has installed the camera network. — VNS