By DANA SMITH
THE National Closed Circuit Television Project will see more than 200 surveillance cameras worth more than $4 million installed in various locations around New Providence.
National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest called the project a "critical milestone" in the government's ongoing efforts to fight crime.
The contract to begin the installation of the cameras was signed yesterday between the government and Bahamian security company, Lowe's Security.
Lowe's Security in turn has partnered with American security company Avrio RMS and Cayman Island security company Security Centres International.
Mr Turnquest said it was after "many months" and $75,000 worth of domestic and foreign consultations, reviews and deliberations, that an agreement was reached.
"This contract that will be signed today is to provide a comprehensive CCTV network that covers key areas on the island of New Providence and is valued at $4,669,809," he said.
"Two hundred and forty-three cameras will be strategically deployed throughout New Providence, spanning firstly from St Alban's Drive in the west to Mackey Street in the east, and covering areas at least one mile south of Bay Street.
"Additionally, cameras will be strategically located in other areas on the island that will focus on high crime areas and hot spots, giving police officers additional eyes to monitor, prevent and detect crimes.
"This project will have as its primary focus those areas where the Police Force faces some of its major crime challenges."
Mr Turnquest said signs will be erected to identify the location of all cameras and to "preserve the privacy and rights of all law-abiding citizens".
"Persons who operate within the law need not fear the installation of the cameras, as they will not be the target of the CCTV network," he said. "But those who choose to break our laws most certainly will be watched, recorded and brought to justice."
Mr Turnquest said it was recognised during the early stages of the project that the successful implementation of a CCTV system "involves more than just erecting cameras."
"Research has shown that the mere placement of CCTV cameras does not automatically guarantee a reduction in crime, as many factors have to be considered," he said.
"For example, we are ensuring that the cameras are effectively monitored and that the police have the capacity to respond rapidly and appropriately to incidents recorded by the cameras. Hence the government has ensured that the police force has the appropriate radio dispatch, available manpower and required mobility.
"This government has ensured that the police are fully equipped and we have facilitated the implementation of an enhanced 919 emergency call system, implemented an Electronic Monitoring System for persons on bail and provided the police force with additional cars, motorcycles and bicycles. Further, we have amended applicable legislation to make evidence obtained by Closed Circuit Television recordings admissible in our courts of law."
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) will be contracted by the government to provide the WiFi Network for the project as well as maintenance and network support.
An agreement was also reached with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) for the use of their infrastructure for the mounting of cameras and ancillary equipment, and for the provision of power.