Premier David Burt’s most recent appointment of Michael Weeks, as the Minister of National Security, disclosed what has been an elusive figure, in the House of Assembly last week, in an update on CCTV.

For years the subject has been raised in criminal court cases, where cameras installed were found to be inoperable and heated debates in Parliament.

Finally, Minister Weeks disclosed that there are currently 150 CCTV cameras across the island and 75, or half, are not working.

He also stated that “after an open procurement process, a contract will shortly be awarded to a local company for the new island-wide CCTV system”.

“Some 13 companies bid on the contract; eleven local and two overseas companies,” he added.

But he has yet to say which local company, or who actually owns that company.

“At this stage, I will not provide the name of the successful local company as all the vendors who bid on the project are currently being notified including the successful company,” said Mr Weeks.

The new island-wide CCTV system will also “include newer features to assist the police in tackling road traffic offences and violent crime” in Bermuda.

And that contract will also “include not only the new island-wide CCTV system but a managed maintenance service contract to ensure its performance and reliability”.

“The new system will also provide for scalability to enable future upgrades and additional capability,” he added.

Moving forward, he said: “The new CCTV system will provide 265 CCTV cameras across the Island at a higher resolution with more reliable connectivity. This will significantly expand coverage.

“The new camera’s resolution will provide an increased ability to identify people.

“The software will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to search footage for individuals and vehicles and provide better outcomes for law enforcement.

“The new system will include an evidence management capability that will simplify, standardize and reduce the cost of video evidence across the Bermuda Police Service.

“The video management software will open up the possibility to integrate with both private and commercial CCTV systems across the Island to increase coverage even further,” he said.

“The system will be vendor agnostic which means that it can be integrated with other systems such as video analytics, gunshot detection and computer aided dispatch.

“This will result in increased safety for our community.”

On that note, he said: “CCTV aids in the identification of suspects in the event of criminal activity and deters others from becoming involved in criminal activity.”

After the contract is signed with the successful vendor, he said: “I will provide more details on the contract including the name of the successful company, cost and the schedule for the upgrades.”

You may recall that the last update was delivered by the new Minister’s predecessor, Renee Ming, the former Minister, back in November 2021, when she reaffirmed the Throne Speech promise to deliver an upgraded CCTV network system.

This after Governor Rena Lalgie said public safety would be “enhanced by marrying technology to crime prevention and detection”.

At that point in time the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance questioned why the existing cameras had been allowed to deteriorate.

Then Shadow Minister of National Security, Michael Dunkley stated that the system we had at that point in time “was not that old”.

“I was the Minister when it was implemented probably six or seven years ago,” he said.

“The real challenge we have with this is twofold. One is we know that the current system has been allowed to deteriorate and cameras haven’t been fixed when they’re not working and this has not helped police in their fight against crime.

“And secondly, we’re going with a whole new system which is going to be quite expensive but we don’t hear any details about what technology is going to be used to expand it more from just the police watching you,” he added.

That was in 2021 – two years later – for the reasons cited by the Minister – the island’s taxpayers still don’t know.

And then there’s the question of introducing speed cameras, talked about for years but to date, it has yet to become a reality.

He also noted that the promise to deliver has “been talked about for years”.

“And they’ve been in many Throne Speeches and Budget debates, and we haven’t seen them.

“But the PLP has shown that their effectiveness with the use of money leads to questions and we’re going to be right on it,” he added.

It is a subject that has lingered on for years, and a subject that has prompted a host of criticism amid the escalation of anti-social behaviour and gun crime in Bermuda, with half of the cameras not working.

Some critics have called for an investigation on how much the current system has cost taxpayers and how much has been paid out of the public purse monthly, to the company that currently runs the system.

Now those critics want to know the actual cost of buying and installing the new system and the maintenance costs attached to it.

No word yet on when that would be – ultimately time will tell.