As Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan showed the media and the entire world the details of the murder of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the role of surveillance cameras in uncovering crimes was brought to the light.
For the first, audiences at home were capable of watching an entire political assassination thanks to the surveillance cameras that are spread all over Dubai which made it possible to follow the suspects’ every move.
Surveillance cameras have always played a major role in solving crimes, the latest of which was the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim where the cameras installed in the building where she lived revealed the identity of the culprit.
Three years ago, the cameras recorded an incident when two cars went into a mall and out of them came a gang of armed men who stormed a jewelry shop and stole diamonds whose value amounted to AED14 million.
Surveillance cameras are installed all over the streets of Dubai as well as in all public places. In fact, there is not a mall or a government facility in the emirate that has no cameras.
In March of last year, the Operations Department at the Dubai Police announced their plan to enhance the presence of surveillance cameras, Khalfan said on the Dubai Police website.
In addition to increasing the number of cameras to a total of 1,500, the plan involved connecting the cameras installed in 13 shopping malls to control rooms connected to seven police stations all over the emirate.
The presence of surveillance cameras has become a security necessity, said Dr. Mohamed Mourad Abdullah, head of the Decision Making Support Center at the Dubai Police.
“As soon as a crime takes place, we go back to the cameras,” he told Al Arabiya. “After watching the footage and linking the incidents together, we can identify the suspects.”
Cameras can help trace when the suspects met and how much time it took them to commit the crime.
“The videos of these cameras are used as evidence and are presented to the prosecution and to court.”
Surveillance cameras, Abdullah added, also play a very important role in the confession process. Showing the videos to suspects exercises psychological pressure on them to force them to confess.
Videos are never played unless necessary, hence they do not constitute a violation of civil liberties.
“We only play the videos or show them to the public in cases where a crime takes place. Otherwise, these videos are saved in the camera memory and never displayed or watched.”
When asked if owners of buildings are obliged by law to install surveillance cameras, Abdullah replied that they are not.
“They don’t have to, but they choose to do so because it provides security for the place and attracts more residents. Residents usually prefer to live in places where they feel safe and surveillance cameras give them that,” he concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).