Double benefit for Wharfside Shopping Centre - Dallmeier CCTV system protects both commerce and privacy
The Wharfside Shopping Centre in the English city of Penzance is a successful mix of retail businesses and private residences. This combination, however, poses quite a challenge for video security technology. After all, the comprehensive security requirements of a highly frequented shopping centre have to be reconciled with the protection of the residents' right to privacy.
Penzance, in the south west of Cornwall, is beautifully located on Mounts Bay, a bay on the shores of the Atlantic, at the entry to the English Channel. The Wharfside Shopping Centre offers a stunning view of St. Michael's Mount. That is not the only particularity of the building complex, though. The shopping centre, which was opened in 1999 provides an attractive mix of residences and community space as well as, on the ground floor, 23 retail units, cafés and bars.
Originally, the first floor was used as storage space. Experience showed, however, that the storage rooms were not really needed – and so apartments and community areas were created instead. “The location gave us the unique opportunity to create something truly special. The combination was a great success. One of the residents even said that it was like heaven on earth,” says Robert Pulford, a partner with the consulting firm Charville Estates Consultancy.
An indispensable tool
”We have realised that a surveillance system is an indispensable part of our overall concept;” Pulford explains. ”We couldn't survive without it.”
When it came to choosing a suitable surveillance system, Wharfside opted for the modern digital video recorders of the ”In Memory of Leonardo” series by Dallmeier in order to be able to record high-quality images. For the quality of the recordings is crucial for the management of the shopping centre. The permanent recording throughout the day allows the security personnel to keep a close eye on events in the busy precinct around the shopping centre as well as on the gateways to the residential buildings.
The Wharfside management particularly appreciates the speed, quality and easy operation of the Dallmeier system. Matt Bushell, the head of security at the shopping centre, is convinced of the system's performance capabilities: ”It's a great system. It is very easy to burn relevant images on CD or retrieve them for investigation. I'm very impressed, especially with the incredible speed of the system.”
The possibility to provide conclusive images which are approved for use in courts of law was a decisive aspect in choosing a high-quality digital system. “We can quickly and easily burn an image on CD and give it to investigators as evidence,” says operator Tom Pulford.
The system serves a double purpose
During the planning of the system, equal consideration had to be given to the need for a comprehensive surveillance as well as the privacy of the occupants.
All areas of the shopping centre that are open to the public are monitored by 22 cameras. Additional cameras discreetly provide security in the residential areas of the building complex, whereby the privacy of the residents is strictly respected.
The main focus of surveillance is placed on the central passage of the shopping centre. Camera surveillance is concentrated on this area. Among other things, the Dallmeier software is used to control the PTZ cameras, which allow a flexible monitoring of the main shopping area as well as neuralgic outdoor areas. The remaining cameras are static and meant to prevent the development of particularly dangerous spots. ”Those static cameras also monitor existing and inevitable danger points such as elevators and escalators,” Bushell says.
The cameras in the residential areas are all static and focussed on the entrance and exit areas of the building. Special measures were taken so as to protect the residents' privacy. “Of course, occupants do not want to be constantly monitored. However, they do appreciate it when busy passages are covered by the cameras,“ says Bushell. No camera is aimed at a front door or a window, and so-called Privacy Zones, which cover certain areas in the image, prevent an accidental invasion of privacy. The residents can rest assured that they are not under surveillance but that their immediate surroundings are safe. “
The system in practical application
“Surveillance technology has helped us numerous times over the years,” says Pulford. Owing to the surveillance many perpetrators were convicted. “With the new Dallmeier recorders we get incredibly detailed images which make it easy to identify people. When the police are looking at the pictures, they often recognise well-known persons. It really is a very useful tool. Many offenders could otherwise not be caught or convicted of a crime.“
The cameras are monitored throughout the day, with the security officer typically spending roughly 45 minutes watching and evaluating the recordings, then 15 minutes out in the shopping centre. “Even if he should be away from the monitor for longer, the permanent recording of the Dallmeier recorders ensure that, once he is back, he can have a look at everything that went on,“ Matt Bushell explains.
Tim Pulford explains that clear images of peoples' faces are captured at the entry and exit points. Those identification recordings can then be used in connection with the video images showing the progression of events for criminal investigation purposes. The surveillance system allows the security personnel to follow an imminent crime and all associated events from camera to camera. This is easily possible thanks to the user-friendly navigation of the Dallmeier software.
Just recently, a theft demonstrated the usefulness of the CCTV system. Someone cycled to the shopping centre, entered the loading bay of a major store and picked up two printers. He then left on his bicycle.“ Without the CCTV system we would never have realised the theft,” says Bushell. The quality of the images was so good that it was even possible to recognise the manufacturer logo and the exact type of printer. “We identified the perpetrator and he was arrested.“
The CCTV system has not only proven useful for criminal investigation as it also contributes to accident prevention and health protection. Bushell adds: ”If anybody should trip and fall anywhere in the building, we can immediately identify the tripping hazard and take remedial action.”
Using the surveillance network we also managed to find children who had wandered off into some shop during a shopping expedition with parents and were then reported missing. ”Without the cameras we might not have been able to trace their ways and hence would have had trouble finding them again”, Bushell stresses. “With the CCTV system though we were able to reunite the children with their relieved parents in no time.”
The town also has its own CCTV network, and Wharfside works closely with the town’s monitoring team, explains Ruth Jenkin, Business Development Manager of the Wharfside Shopping Centre. The close cooperation facilitates tracing a certain person across the city region.
Additional security is achieved through the connection of all the shopping centre's retail units to the local StoreNet shortwave communication system. Shop owners are in constant contact, exchanging information. “All shops are networked. If anything is stolen in one shop, the owners describe the perpetrator, say which goods he is carrying and indicate the direction he is heading for. We can then follow them with the cameras and arrest them,” Jenkin explains. “Thanks to the surveillance system we could increase security both for shop owners and residents.”