A new social network – communities use CCTV to crack crime

Rise in number of communal cameras that allow neighbours to look out for each other
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The Independent Online

Communities' fears over rising crime in the face of biting police cuts are fuelling a new trend in home CCTV kits.

The number of house break-ins across the UK rose by 14 per cent last year, according to the British Crime Survey, and with more than one in eight frontline policemen set to be axed over the next four years under Government cuts, that figure is expected to rise.

But families are increasingly taking home security into their own hands by rigging up their own cameras in a bid to defend themselves.

Jabbakam is one such system that connects through the internet and allows communities to watch each other's homes through social networking sites, wherever they are in the world.

Pete Wiggington, from Chessington, Surrey, set up cameras around his home after he caught a burglar crawling through his bedroom window.

Mr Wiggington, who has two young daughters, was woken in the middle of the night to be faced with a young, balaclava-clad thief at the foot of his bed. "I couldn't believe this was happening," he said. "My father's instinct just took over.

"I leapt out of bed completely naked and chased him out of the house. After the adrenalin settled, I thought that's it, something has to be done. It's our right to feel safe in our own home."

Within weeks his next-door neighbours were also burgled and Mr Wiggington installed four cameras around his home.

"The concept of Community Monitored TV is great," he said. "If communities could all club together to buy communal cameras, we could help to combat the problems we have been experiencing. It seems a logical move in light of police cuts."

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) revealed this month that some 16,200 officers across Britain will lose their jobs, and as resources are further stretched by an increase in cyber crimes pulling more frontline officers behind desks, fears are growing over the safety of Britain's streets.

Jabbakam was invented by IT entrepreneur James Wickes, 50, who claims it is a natural progression from Neighbourhood Watch.

A network can be formed by two or more users monitoring a single camera, or an international community sharing footage across the globe, he says.

"The team at Jabbakam are committed to creating and supporting safer and stronger neighbourhoods in which we all take responsibility for our actions and how they affect others," he said.