The benefits of closed-circuit television are substantial. The mere presence of surveillance cameras, if made known, exercises a calming effect on people disposed to act irrationally.
For those in energetic authority, it provides a vehicle for real-time monitoring of areas of possible concern. For those less energetic, it provides archival film footage that can be referred to at a later date for evidence and assistance.
Where I live on South Lantau, the management company of my estate is so enamoured with CCTV that some 22 cameras have just been installed, one for every four houses.
I would hasten to add that we are not a crime spot; it is just the management company being highly proactive.
Outside the estate gate, however, it is a totally different matter. South Lantau Road is under the management of the Transport Department and the police.
There are no CCTV cameras at all on this long and often dark and empty road, and both government departments have refused repeated requests to install them.
If CCTV was installed (as few as two cameras might suffice), it would be possible to track and catch the heavy trade vehicles that access this closed road after dark when the watchers have gone home, or the road racers that enliven the night hours with high-speed chases, or the vehicles that have hit and killed dozens of cattle over recent years.
To be fair, the provision of CCTV monitoring would mean extra work for the authorities.
For example, it would be possible in the case of accidents that are not witnessed (the majority it seems), to have knowledge of the vehicles on the road at that time, which could lead to follow-up inspections and forensic examinations being undertaken.
The availability of such hard evidence might even result in prosecutions, and act as a consequential deterrent to others contemplating similar action.
However, if work avoidance is the issue (as it was in one case of cattle deaths that I personally attended), then the lack of evidence means a case closed.
It is always easier not to take action.
Clive Noffke, Lantau