The long-running BBC television programme Crimewatch - formerly known as Crimewatch UK - reconstructs major unsolved crimes in the hope of jogging someone's memory and gaining vital information to assist in solving cases. The show was first broadcast in June 1984 on a monthly basis and was based on a German TV programme with the same format.
Viewing figures reveal that Crimewatch is watched by some five million people every month. It is aimed at playing a beneficial role in helping to solve crime, drawing on the collective knowledge and experiences of the viewers in order to do so. Ironically, a Broadcasting Standards Council study concluded that the series had increased the fear of crime for more than 50% of respondents who had watched the frightening and realistic reconstructions of some of the major crimes.
Initially, Crimewatch was presented by Sue Cook and Nick Ross, a partnership that lasted for 11 years, until Cook left the show in 1995. She was replaced by journalist and news reader Jill Dando, whose tragic death after being shot outside her Fulham home on 26th April 1999 has remained an unsolved crime for more than 20 years.
Despite a long-running investigation by the Metropolitan Police, during which the murder investigation team spoke to more than 2,500 people and took more than 1,000 statements, the case remains a mystery. Various theories have been suggested as to why Dando was shot, including a claim that it was a professional assassin hired by a criminal as revenge for their conviction due to Crimewatch.
CCTV footage of Dando's final journey - including security video recordings from a Hammersmith shopping centre she had visited on her way home - didn't show any signs that she was followed and the police drew a blank with every line of inquiry. The horrific crime sent shockwaves through not only the Crimewatch studio but also across the whole of the UK.
Ross continued to host Crimewatch alone until January 2000, when he was joined by Fiona Bruce as co-presenter. They both left the show in 2007, to be replaced by Matthew Amroliwala and Kirsty Young who remained as lead presenters until 2015, with guest presenter Sophie Raworth briefly joining the team in 2016.
After operating on a monthly format since 1984, television chiefs announced Crimewatch was to be relaunched in September 2016 with a weekly slot and two new presenters, Jeremy Vine and Tina Daheley.
Crimewatch relies heavily on CCTV in its fight against crime. Clips from across the nation are broadcast during the programme, showing many different types of crime such as robberies, hit and run accidents, violent crimes, burglaries, vandalism, assaults, gun crime, arson and more. The BBC shows the CCTV footage on its website to try and jog viewers' memories.
Without the use of CCTV, Crimewatch wouldn't be able to exist in its current format, as it is pivotal in the fight against crime. The footage is one of the best ways to identify the criminals responsible for featured crimes and in many cases, this can lead to an arrest.
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