Bendigo police welcome CCTV cameras

BENDIGO police say more CCTV cameras around the city would help with criminal investigations and deter violence.

The call came as Premier Ted Baillieu pledged up to $3 million for local councils to set up CCTV networks, after key security footage assisted in the Jill Meagher investigation.

Bendigo Police Senior Sergeant Craig Gaffee said the CCTV images that helped track down Ms Meagher’s alleged killer highlighted their value to police.

“It’s a really good example of how we can use those sort of security cameras as an investigative tool,” he said.

“It’s just one of the many tools we can use.” In Bendigo there are 19 council-operated cameras throughout the CBD.

Senior Sergeant Gaffee said the monitoring of those CCTV cameras was critical, particularly around the nightclub district. 

The move of Bendigo police’s D24 communications office to Ballarat in July last year left police without access to live CCTV feeds for about two months.

But Senior Sergeant Gaffee said the return of the surveillance footage allowed police to watch screens at all hours and work in cooperation with police foot patrols.

“When we become aware of things happening in the CBD we can direct resources where they need to go. If we get reports of antisocial behaviour in the CBD we can monitor, in real time, what’s happening. The cameras are good deterrent as well – if people know they’re going to be filmed they’re less likely to offend”

He said the current CCTV network in Bendigo was sufficient but more cameras would always be welcomed.

City of Greater Bendigo director of community wellbeing Pauline Gordon said there were no immediate plans for more CCTV cameras.

Representative of the Safe Community Forum councillor James Reade said the collaborative group would continue to advocate for more CCTV cameras to make Bendigo’s streets safe.

Cr Reade said the new safe taxi rank – due to be completed before the end of the year – would have additional CCTV cameras installed.

University of Technology Sydney Associate Professor of law, Dr Katherine Biber, said there should be an ongoing debate about use of the cameras.

“Calling them security cameras is misleading. It gives a false sense of security to think that the presence of cameras means people won’t perpetrate crimes.

“They don’t provide security or deter crime. The evidence shows that they move crimes to be committed elsewhere or force people to use disguises.”

The Victorian government said it has identified public places near public transport hubs and popular nightspots as areas for increased CCTV surveillance.

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