Public transport CCTV checks collar 70 felons

Dozens of criminals were caught after police were provided with footage from CCTV installations set up at public transport stations and in underground trains in Vienna in the first three months of this year.Public transport agency Wiener Linien announced today (Weds) that 70 offenders were punished after police investigators checked footage from surveillance cameras tracked them down between January and March 2011. The company did not give precise information on how many cases of violence against other passengers and employees were solved thanks to the cooperation, explaining that the majority of examined incidents affected damage to public property.Around 1,500 cameras have been installed at U-Bahn stations and inside trains since 2005. Considering heated public debate in other European cities, the introduction of CCTV systems has been carried out with little opposition by non-government organisations (NGO) and privacy protection pressure groups. Wiener Linien argued that the cameras have a preventive effect in the fight against crime. Recorded footage is saved for 48 hours, according to newspapers.Vienna has one of the lowest crime rates among Europe’s biggest cities in the world. The number of car thefts and burglaries dropped dramatically in the past months after some years of soaring figures. Pickpocket offences have recently been identified as one of the major problems of the capital’s police, especially in the city centre with its touristic attractions.Wiener Linien recorded more passengers than ever before in 2010 with 838.7 million. The company also announced that it registered 61 incidents in which employees were injured by fare dodgers in the first nine months of last year.The agency said in February that most of its standardised announcements such as information about delays or a service breakdown will be transmitted in both German and English from this Easter.