Ill lit streets and limited police presence on roads during dark hours have highlighted the city police constabulary's need for a public video surveillance network to be used primarily as an urban law enforcement tool.

The attempt by a gang to waylay the vehicle of a woman employee of a firm based in Technopark on the national highway near Muttathara on the night of September 10 perhaps best illustrates the city's need for a police video surveillance system.

The Corporation's proposal to install surveillance cameras to help the police observe the entire city, chiefly its important roads, streets, bus and railway stations and business districts, has failed to take off.

The suggestion was to install night vision capable cameras, with motion sensors, to reduce unnecessary footage. The feed from the cameras would be recorded for analysis by law enforcers.

The police now hoped that private sponsorship from hoteliers and IT firms would help them install a video surveillance system on the Kovalam-Technopark highway for a start.

City Police Commissioner Ajith Kumar said those who attempted to stop the woman were possibly drunken revellers and not highway robbers as initially suspected. He said night patrolling had been intensified.

The police said the lack of street lighting was impeding crime-fighting operations. They had notified the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) that nearly 900 streetlights, chiefly those in crime prone areas, were not working.

In his letter to the KSEB, Mr. Ajith said streetlights were an “important deterrent in the prevention of crime and also an aid to pedestrians and motorists at night”. He pointed out that at many places the “existing streetlights are dead or not working”.

Vandalised

There were about 43,000 streetlights in the city. Officials said criminals deliberately vandalised streetlights near cinema theatres, bar hotels, important junctions, road toll collection kiosks and toddy shops. “Fuse carriers” attached to electric posts and transformers were often stolen for the brass inside the devices.