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Police CCTV operators complain of long working hours

CCTV operators

CCTV operators

Security closed Circuit Television (CCTV) operators have raised concerns over the long working hours they are subjected to, which affects their ability to closely monitor all events happening in the city.

The operators work for more than 12 hours a day and are expected to stay glued on the screens, taking a keen interest in the developments and peculiarities around the city. One of them told URN that they have requested to work for at least six hours a day in vain.

URN engaged some police officers attached to CCTV monitoring centres in Kampala metropolitan after learning that two warnings had been issued to them by ICT and CID directors prior to the shooting for former army commander, Gen Katumba Wamala. 

In the warning issued on May 14, the police director of information and communication technology Felix Baryamwisaki expressed dismay with the fact that CCTV operators were entering monitoring rooms with mobile phones which would detract their full-time attention and concentration to security cameras.

Baryamwisaki called upon district/division police commanders (DPCs) to inform CCTV operators to avoid entering monitoring rooms with mobile phones or else be prepared to face the police force’s disciplinary court.

Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga said CCTV monitoring rooms need full-time attendance so that the real-time intelligence provided by these cameras is put to effective use. He said the full-time vigilance of the CCTV monitoring team enables them to send signals to motorized patrollers for a timely response.

But the CCTV operators say that they would be more efficient on the job if their working hours are reduced and that they should be given special gear to protect them from lights produced by the LED monitors saying that excessively watching these monitors is likely to affect their eyesight.

“It is not easy to be seated in one place with your eyes glued on a monitor for twelve hours. We also get tired and bored,” a CCTV operator at one of the monitoring rooms in Kampala said.

The security camera operators said they would wish to be given accommodation just like their colleagues attached to National CCTV Command Centre at Naguru, so that they can respond to emergencies in the event that anything happens when they are already out of the station.

CCTV operators at the National Command Centre also face similar challenges and CID director Grace Akullo, through the head of the homicide unit, Monday Johnson has already warned them against persistent absence and dodging work.

The 2020 police crime report list some of the security incidents that were responded to in real-time intelligence. One particular incident captured by CCTV cameras was at Ave Maria Stage in Kabalagala where cameras captured a group of five criminals who were grabbing a woman off a moving motorcycle.

The intelligence responded in time to identify the suspects and notified the field officers. Subsequently, the facial identifications were captured by intelligence, and six associates were arrested and charged.

Unlike other installations in the city, an official at Uganda Civil Aviation Authority said their monitoring system is almost automated and a few personnel attached to it just take recordings. The CIA official said security at Entebbe airport is both human and technology-based.

“We have a person who provides security in the building at the airport in addition to security cameras. We deploy human beings because of corridors within these buildings. We don’t make changes,” a CIA official said.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd