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The recent arrest of a 35 year old man in relation to an alleged hit and run has revealed how useful private CCTV can be in identifying and prosecuting people for traffic related offences.
Police allege that the driver of the vehicle, who was suspended from driving at the time, was driving dangerously when he hit the victim. They further allege that he returned to the scene 11 minutes later before fleeing.
He was only arrested and charged because police managed to obtain CCTV footage of both the collision and the events shortly thereafter.
It is common police practice when investigating any event said to have occurred in public for police to conduct a canvass for any shops, licenced venues or private premises that may have CCTV footage of the incident. This is often as low-tech as police walking up and down the road and looking for any cameras or other video recording devices, and then speaking to the occupiers of the properties.
It is a time consuming and no doubt frustrating task, but (unlike on television) good police work can often be a question of monotonously grinding out lines of investigation.
The challenge for police is that, frequently, CCTV footage is deleted as quickly as 24 hours after being recorded. If potential holders of footage are not immediately identified and contacted then the evidence can be lost.
When there are no eye witnesses of an incident, CCTV material gathered in this way can often be crucial in identifying and prosecuting the alleged perpetrator.
In circumstances where there has been an accident or collision, police can usually require the registered owner of a vehicle to nominate who was driving the vehicle. Once the driver is identified, a driver can usually be required to give an account of what occurred.
In this case it appears, fortunately for police, not only was the footage available, but it was of sufficient quality that the van (and, therefore, the driver) could be identified and located. It remains to be seen what other evidence police have gathered and whether it will be sufficient to prove the offences charged beyond a reasonable doubt.
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