Think of China and what pictures does it conjure up for you? For me it was the Wall, The Birds nest, Smog and technology. In my recent visit I saw beautiful blue skies, clean air, history on a mind blowing scale, huge cities (made of huge buildings) and roads filled with people driving in every direction imaginable! The people were very welcoming and interested in what I was doing and why I was there. I was struck visiting the great sites such as the summer Palace and the Great Wall as it was strange to be surrounded by tourists almost exclusively from China itself.
My journey however was work and fitting in the sightseeing meant a punishing, but very enjoyable, schedule. In November 2014 officers form Wuhan City attended a 3 week programme to introduce them to UK approaches to crime prevention, security and incident management. They visited London, Manchester and Edinburgh and were able to visit a number of police forces, receive lectures from our Expert associates and experience the UK approach. This was the first of this type of programme the London Policing College had run and whilst we had a number of considerable challenges the programme gave them a good insight into the UK and policing.
In May I was invited to visit them in China and see the policing context they work in. Wuhan is a ‘small city’ of 25million residents on the Yangtze River in the centre of China. The police training centre was vast, their police stations large modern buildings and the officers, as we found in the UK, were well trained and engaging. During my visit they were keen to show me how they had used the learning on their return.
The flag ship project was the introduction of public space CCTV in one of the local Districts. The area, a mixture of residential and Commercial properties on the outskirts of Wuhan with a population of about 600,000 people. They were very impressed with the way we used CCTV in major incident, public events and security operations but their greatest interest was how it could be used to enhance investigations. They therefore decided upon a devolved system where each business and residence was encouraged to install the system. Following a series of public debates, the development of protocols and briefings for the public they established a system where each business on a road installed CCTV cameras on the street, these were coordinated to ensure they provided maximum coverage especially at junctions, with owners signing up to an agreed approach to storage and retrieval of data.
An exciting but not breath taking approach until the scale and impact was revealed. 45,000 Cameras have been installed so far. Each part of an agreed monitoring system and fully mapped and integrated with the local police. The end result is a significant jump in solved crimes. I was shown a series of robberies which were linked through the use of CCTV and where investigators identified those responsible and return property, a murder where the CCTV caught the incident and the vehicle of the perpetrator and many other crimes of burglary and theft. The quality of the images was exceptional, the running costs very low and the results so far very promising.
Most interesting was their presentation in which they identified the concerns of the public about surveillance and police intrusion in the West and how their system was monitored and owned by the public to be used to assist post a crime investigation had huge public support, had led to arrests and early indications were of a significant drop in crime.
For us this was a great result, very happy clients who have immediately implemented some of the learning. For the Chinese police money well spent and for the people of Wuhan increased security.