NSW Police Minister, David Campbell, has revealed details of a new project encouraging citizens to capture video and photographic evidence of crimes on their phones and upload it securely over the Web to law enforcement agencies.
The initiative — expected to cost around AU$8 million — is currently being developed under the working title of Project View (Video Image Evidence on the Web), and was conceived in the wake of the 2005 Cronulla riots and London bombings, after cameraphone footage capturing the events was used extensively in the investigations of both incidents.
NSW Police Minister David Campbell
Credit: NSW Government
"Police are establishing technology which will allow the public to provide such footage to them via the Web," Campbell said in a statement.
"This is a cutting-edge project which, while in its infancy, is showing a lot of promise as a future crime-fighting tool," he added.
A spokesperson for the Minister said that while the 2005 incidents may have been a catalyst for the project's development, police had been looking for some time to incorporate the Internet and mobile devices into their operations, saying it was as much a "response to convergence" as anything else.
"The community is one of our greatest resources when it comes to solving crime. This role has increased with the development of mobile phone cameras and sites such as YouTube," said Police Minister Campbell.
"Footage of a bashing, a sexual assault or car hoon activities might be found online or captured on a video phone... if the location, offender or victim in these alleged crimes can be identified police will be able to follow up on the matter."
Assistant Commissioner Bob Waites, head of the force's Operational Communications and Information Command, is in charge of developing the project, but a spokesperson for the NSW Police Force told ZDNet.com.au today that he would not comment on the project.
Waites recently launched another similar initiative encouraging businesses to sign up to a statewide Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) register, allowing police to map the locations of privately owned surveillance cameras across the state and compile the details in a central database so that officers can contact business owners quickly to source crime scene footage if a registered camera is in the area.
"Once up and running, this register will be a crucial investigative tool for the state's police officers," said Waites in a statement.
"They will be able to quickly identify whether there is a CCTV system installed in or around the area where an offence has occurred and, if so, source the vision as part of their inquiries."