*NEWSBITES

LES ÉCHOS/Worldcrunch

PARIS - Call it the Parisian police force's version of cinéma vérité. In a major new effort to crack down on street crime, some 200 new CCTV (closed-circuit) surveillance cameras were switched on in the French capital. By June 2012, there are slated to be 1,455 across the city's sprawling neighborhoods, plus additional ones deployed on the banks of the Seine river.

The locations for these new cameras have already been chosen, after consultation with the elected leaders of Paris' "arrondissements" (administrative districts). Location is a sensitive issue: if the first wave of cameras appears to focus on upscale arrondissements, officials promise that eventually "the distribution among districts will be satisfactory."

The 20 district police stations will be equipped with surveillance computers connected to the cameras via 480 kilometers of optical fiber. In addition, 2,500 trained police officers and firefighters will be allowed to view images captured by about 9,500 cameras located in the Parisian metro system and train stations. To allay fears about the protection of privacy, tapes will be destroyed after 30 days and an ethics committee will be created.

So far, the rather obsolete Parisian system of CCTV was mainly devoted to monitoring traffic. Cameras will now help to deter crime and help the police solve cases. Paris is still far behind London and its 65,000 CCTV cameras.

Read the full story in French by Laurence Albert

Photo - ebrkut

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