More spy cameras to stop people throwing things from flats
More surveillance cameras will be installed in public housing estates in the second half of the year in an effort to stop residents throwing things out of their windows.
Four hi-tech cameras will be added to the eight that have already been installed in estates in six districts since the middle of last year, Ir Ho Wing-ip, chief manager of the housing department's estate management division, said.
The cameras can cover eight to nine flats on 10 floors, which would have required seven cameras in older surveillance systems.
'These high-definition cameras show clearer images, but we won't zoom in too closely. We only need it to be clear enough,' Ho said.
In a trial demonstration of the system in Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate, windows of 80 to 90 flats in a building were shown on a computer screen.
A person throwing a plastic bag from a window could clearly be seen, but not the activities of people inside the flat.
'Only authorised staff including the estate manager and the security management head can control the cameras by accessing the system with a password,' Ho said.
Lawmaker and Legislative Council security panel chairman James To Kun-sun said that to avoid invading residents' privacy the cameras should not be installed directly opposite the buildings.
'The cameras should be installed at a 90-degree angle, such as on the building top,' he said. 'That would be enough to capture which flat things had been thrown out of.'
The cameras will be installed in areas where there have been complaints about falling objects or at the request of estate managers.
The cameras can be installed in two days compared to a week for the older, bulkier systems. They can be installed on lamp posts and exterior walls of buildings, according to where surveillance is required.
The old and new systems will be used simultaneously.
Technicians are still testing the new system to see if the cameras will fail under high temperatures, especially in summer. The camera and the memory storage hard disc are kept inside a tightly sealed metal box.
So far the new cameras have caught only one person throwing out an object - a tenant in Upper Ngau Tau Kok Estate who tossed a shoe from a window.
The tenant was deducted seven marks under an enforcement system that results in eviction when 16 marks have been deducted.
'We want to make it a preventive measure to stop residents from throwing things from a height, so we will post notices at building entrances to let residents know when the building is under surveillance,' Ho said.
In the past five years, 531 cases of throwing objects from a height have been reported.