Police in Durham have brought in a new system which officers say will give them quicker access to CCTV footage.
Previously when Durham Constabulary needed CCTV footage as part of an investigation, an officer would drive to the Durham County Council 24/7 CCTV monitored control room in County Durham to obtain the footage on a disk.
Now SentrySIS, a secure cloud based software system, has been set up to allow the CCTV to be sent in a digital transfer which has so far saved 160 hours in travelling time, thousands of pounds in fuel and enabled officers to progress investigations quicker as they can generally receive the footage the same day they have requested it.
More than 260 clips have been downloaded since the start of the new process which began in October following a partnership between the force and Durham County Council.
Acting Inspector Adam Norris said: “A common misconception is that the police own CCTV cameras.
"In fact, cameras are predominantly owned by local authorities and private businesses, meaning that the police have to request access to the footage which can take time.
“Any technology that recovers intelligence from video footage is a priority for development in the police’s evidence-gathering capabilities.
"Such advanced technology will free up officers, allowing investigation teams to be more effective at solving crimes.
“Surveillance cameras are crucial to investigations.
"This footage has become a game-changer in our pursuit of justice for victims of crimes.
"The cameras can record and capture a crime as it unfolds and create valuable evidence for court trials.”
Head of transport and contract services at Durham County Council, Adrian White, said: “We know CCTV is vital for the police and we have worked closely with our colleagues at Durham Constabulary to help speed up the transfer process.
“We are always keen to use technology where it helps make efficiencies and so far the system is proving beneficial for all involved.”
Durham Constabulary was the first force in the country to issue all frontline police officers, special constables, police community support officers and staff with body-worn video cameras in order to capture evidence during the course of their duties.
Speaking about the body-worn cameras, A/Insp Norris said: “The cameras have proved invaluable.
"They are being used to support early charging decisions by the Crown Prosecution Service as their staff can now often view the scene of an incident, hear the initial account of the victim and see any injuries caused.
"This helps to bring offenders to justice at the earliest opportunity which reduces overall costs to the criminal justice system.”
He added: “We hope this fast access to CCTV footage will bolster the prosecution of crimes and lead to savings which have already been seen by the force.”