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London riots and ICT-enhanced security

With Adekunle Adekola

It is now stale news that the city of London, and other parts of the United Kingdom erupted in riots earlier this month. Those who have been following the event by now have an idea of what may have been the immediate and remote causes of the disturbances.

Personally, I believe the Police in that country discharged itself meritoriously, and again, those who follow the news would by now have news of hundreds of persons charged to court for looting and other wilful acts of arson.

The London Telegraph published several pictures in its online edition last week. One of the pictures(below) showed a 12-year old boy caught on camera stealing a bottle of wine from a Sainsbury’s store in Manchester. The picture, a composite, also showed the same boy hiding his face as he left court last Thursday, August 11.

It was very thrilling to me to see how ICT enabled the Police to, within such a short time, apprehend arsonists and looters that took advantage of the disturbances to unveil their true colours. Hundreds of those apprehended have been charged to court, even though the Police are complaining about the sentences handed some of the rioters.

But the beauty of the whole thing is that they have earned their salary. People with access to the internet may also be shocked to find that many of their relations “struggling” in London actually participated in looting shops.

Again, it is also not news that London city is under closed circuit video camera surveillance. Which leads me to wonder why any person with knowledge of such infrastructure will still go ahead to commit a crime, knowfully well that at the end of the day, the Police will come.

It is also indicative of the robustness of the hardware behind the video surveillance, which largely survived the fires and other damages while still rolling to record the evil deeds of looters.

That again brings me back to the UNIBEN CCTV project which was recently commissioned. It is a very good step in a very good direction, and our governments should not waste time in installing such security infrastructure in our towns and cities.

The way things are, we are moving too fast ahead of our governments, and that means crime will get more and more sophisticated. To catch up, and stay abreast of criminals as our cities become sprawling mega-cities, we need to help our Police, and the easiest way is through ICT. If we do not empower the Police NOW using ICT, criminals will continue to stay ahead of our analog law-enforcement methods.

Put simply, if you know that somebody, somewhere is looking, and the person looking will come for you sooner or later, the criminal will think twice before snatching a lady’s handbag, or attempt a rape in a deserted area. I know many other things, like regular electricity have to be in place, but we now power street lights with generators and solar panels. What we need is the will.


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