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POLICE CCTV operators are proving to be crucial in the search for missing people – finding six people safe and well in the past seven days.
Eagle-eyed operators at the Dyfed-Powys Police control centre have ensured six people – including teenagers and vulnerable adults – were located swiftly, with five of the six found within 30 minutes.
The incidents were spread around the force, with teenagers reported missing in Llanelli, Aberystwyth, Milford Haven and Brecon, and adults in Brecon and Llanelli.
The CCTV Co-Ordinator said: “The CCTV team is constantly reviewing live incident logs, and in the case of a missing person they will immediately identify if the CCTV department can assist in any capacity by monitoring live cameras or reviewing recorded footage.
“The team has been very successful and have located numerous missing people since the inception of the department 18 months ago, however over the past week some exceptional performance has seen the team successfully identify where six missing people were, allowing officers to return them to their loved ones, carers and families.”
The team was established in June 2019, and currently has access to view 150 cameras across the force area. The wide spread of cameras were installed as part of Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn’s commitment to secure the return of CCTV, and allow operators to scan areas such as town centres quickly, which can save crucial time.
Over the past week, a 15-year-old girl was located within 10 minutes of being reported, a 52-year-old woman in 13 minutes, and two separate teenagers – aged 14 and 17 – were found in half an hour.
Operators also successfully spotted a 14-year-old girl walking through a town centre in darkness during the early hours of the morning.
In one instance, being made aware of a man’s last known location allowed operators to look back over CCTV footage from the time he was reported missing. He was seen leaving the location in a taxi, and enquiries were made to find out where he had travelled to.
The CCTV Co-ordinator said: “The quality of the cameras is fantastic, and the team can even zoom in to look at things like tattoos to identify people.
“Key to their success is the level of detail operators are given. Descriptions, and what people are wearing, are hugely important pieces of information.
“We hope you don’t need to contact us to report a friend or family member as missing, but if you do, please try to give the call handler the most detailed description you can. This could save crucial time in finding them and making sure they are safe.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) of Dyfed Powys Police, Dafydd Llywelyn, pledged to invest in a modern CCTV infrastructure to improve the safety of the towns and communities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.
His vision was to deliver a sustainable CCTV infrastructure across the four counties of the force area according to demand, crime, anti-social behaviour and calls for service and which is future proofed and supports operational policing.
CCTV cameras have now been installed in 23 towns across the force.
Mr Llywelyn said: “It’s all about making sure our communities are as safe and secure as possible and it is very encouraging to see the positive impact the CCTV infrastructure, its centralised monitoring suite and our team of CCTV operators are having on policing throughout the force.”