Pattaya officials denied allegations by the head of the Chonburi Provincial Police that criminals are getting free reign because only 1 percent of the city’s 1,470 CCTV cameras actually work.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Nitipong Niamnoi told a recent meeting of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association that police are having difficulties solving crime and controlling traffic because the billion baht Pattaya City Hall spent on closed-circuit cameras has been wasted due to lack of maintenance. He estimated only 1 percent of all cameras remain operational.
Surasak Jansomboon, head of Pattaya’s Strategic Planning Office, told the PBTA that 1,275 of the 1,470 CCTV cameras actually work, strongly disputing police claims that 99% of the cameras aren’t operable.
Surasak Jansomboon, head of Pattaya’s Strategic Planning Office, took strong exception to Nitipong’s claim, however, contending that a recent inspection found that 1,275 of the cameras, or 86.7 percent, were working.
Whether they actually transit their images to anyone is another story, however. Surasak said the cameras are dependent on fiber-optic lines strung on power poles. If poles or electrical wires catch fire or fall due to storms, signals from the cameras are interrupted.
He did not estimate how many working cameras are unable to transit their images.
Claims about broken camera systems are hardly new, as police have complained for years about the large number of broken cameras.
In March last year, then-Pattaya Police Superintendent Pol. Col. Supachai Puikaewkam said 86 percent of the CCTVs were broken, leaving the city’s police force dependent on Family Marts, gold shops and condo buildings to capture images of crime scenes and traffic accidents.
Even back in 2011, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome had to go before the press to insist that the cameras many people see around town were not fake, but admitted many were broken.
Surasak said Pattaya has spent about a billion baht installing cameras since 2005 and plans to put up 121 more this year. All are connected with fiber-optic cable and Wi-Fi Internet. Long-standing plans are still in the works to have their footage transmitted to a central control room that links police stations and city agencies, he said.
He said the city spends 7 million baht a year to maintain the system, but – in light of Nitipong’s criticism – will spend another 17 million baht to hire a private firm to check all wiring and address problems facing the entire stock of cameras.
He said the best way to ensure all cameras remain fully operational would be to lay cables below ground, but the city does not have the money for such a large-scale project.