SURREY — Surrey’s civic government and RCMP are setting up a voluntary closed-circuit television camera registry called Project IRIS hoping businesses and residents will give them better access to video footage that might have captured a crime being committed.
“It will allow the RCMP to more efficiently conduct their investigation, as a registry will pinpoint where potential video evidence may be,” Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I want to stress that the footage that is requested will be for evidentiary purposes after an incident has occurred and will be handed over only with the permission of the business or the homeowner and participation in the registry is voluntary and can be withdrawn at any time,” she said.
Hepner told reporters that the privacy commissioner has reviewed the project. “We will be complying with all applicable privacy legislation,” she said.
She said it’s a “voluntary, confidential” camera registry and police “won’t be utilizing those cameras unless an incident has occurred.”
The registry doesn’t give the Surrey RCMP or city access to the cameras or recordings but helps them find camera owners who can then choose whether or not to share their recordings.
Residents and businesses with CCTV cameras who want to participate in the registry can sign up at Surrey.ca/iris.
Project IRIS’s online data base will complement the city’s own 400-camera system, Hepner said.
Surrey RCMP Chief Superintendent Dwayne McDonald said this could potentially save “hundreds if not thousands of hours of police officers’ time,” as normally they would be knocking on doors near a crime scene to see if someone has video surveillance.
“It will allow us to contact camera owners more quickly and request footage much more quickly. So if you own a CCTV camera, I encourage you to consider registering with our Project IRIS,” McDonald said.
“Ideally we’d like one hundred per cent of businesses to participate just because CCTV has proven to be such a valuable tool in investigations. Of course it’s not the end all be all, but it typically will provide us a starting point and lead us in a path toward gathering evidence that may not be readily available.”
McDonald noted that “in almost every” homicide or other serious crime investigation CCTV or video footage “is usually seized, typically with respect to a search warrant or production order and used in those cases.”
The Surrey RCMP has also set up the “Surrey RCMP App,” as part of the MySurrey App, that can be downloaded on android phones and iPhones from the iTunes app store and Google Play.
McDonald said 64 per cent of 911 calls received by the Surrey RCMP are made on mobile devices.
“Residents and business owners have told us they want more access to information on crime and policing activities that affect their communities,” he said.
Hepner said both programs will “give the opportunity for residents and for businesses to become more engaged and play a larger role in helping to keep Surrey safe. They’re going to leverage the existing community resources, expedite evidence gathering and connect the public and the police through their mobile devices.”