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Look Out, the Cameras Are Up and Watching

A well-known bar area will be the latest place in Beijing to use high technology to safeguard social security.

The city will install 39 "electronic eyes" in the Shichahai area, known for its colorful nightlife, before National Day on October 1, according to the Beijing Times yesterday.


There are already more than 5,000 cameras keeping an eye on criminal activity in the capital.


Shichahai, a city lake in downtown Beijing, has many bars nearby.


The new cameras will help watch over the 146.7-hectare area. Construction of the system began last week.


The Beijing News said the 39 monitors are being distributed around the lake. Each one can turn 360 degrees and take pictures of objects within 200 meters. Videotape recordings can be saved for seven to 10 days for management or police investigations. The security system will cost around 1.4 million yuan (US$169,000), according to the management of Shichahai park.


The cameras are also expected to play a role in alleviating traffic jams.


Besides the monitors, more than 440,000 people are cooperating with the police to maintain the capital's peace.


For example, they report people who behave suspiciously.


However, despite such a huge input of manpower and facilities, social security problems still worry residents.


In the first three months of this year, crime has gone up in Beijing. The number of burglaries and car thefts has grown by 20 percent on the same period last year. According to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, incomplete door entry systems in some communities are partly responsible for it. The bureau has also criticized some local police stations for not playing an active and responsible role. Some residents have complained that they have never seen the police on duty in their communities.


According to the Beijing News, investigations by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau into 286 burglary cases that have taken place since March in Beijing's downtown area found that the victims in 156 cases do not know about their community police.


Now Beijing's Comprehensive Management of Social Security Office and the Municipal Public Security Bureau have demanded community police in the capital work 25 hours a week at least in their communities.


About two weeks ago, the bureau blacklisted 50 police stations due to high crime rate in their areas. The stations must take measures to effectively reduce crime within six months or face penalties such as demotion.


According to the Beijing News, since 2002, 1,947 of the 2,135 communities have installed security facilities such as door entry systems and reached the standards aset by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.


(China Daily April 18, 2005)

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