PROMISED funding to upgrade the closed circuit television network in Bendigo’s CBD and Hargreaves Mall will be delivered, a Justice Minister spokesperson says.
Concerns about the safety of people in Hargreaves Mall have been brought back to the fore following an assault of a school student with a disability earlier this week.
Ahead of the July federal election, the Liberal Party promised $245,000 from the Safer Streets program for the upgrade.
A spokesperson for Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the Attorney-General’s department had written to the City of Greater Bendigo confirming the commitment to providing the funding.
City of Greater Bendigo acting director of health and wellbeing Michael Smyth said the council had received this notification and was waiting for the funding round to open later this year to make a formal application.
Mr Smyth said there were 24 CCTV cameras in strategic locations throughout the CBD, but it had been identified that there were locations where coverage was not ideal.
He said under the proposed upgrade, the cameras would be located in the same areas, but would be updated to newer, better technology, such as cameras with a wider field of vision.
This would provide both better coverage and better quality images from which information could be extracted, he said.
The upgrade and expansion of CBD surveillance systems was identified as a priority earlier this year, following the escalation of violence and other antisocial behaviour in Hargreaves Mall.
Councillors also agreed that the council would push for the urgent provision of additional police positions, including permanent positions in Bendigo.
Mr Smyth said the deployment of more protective custody officers to Bendigo in recent times had freed up police officers to carry out their work in the CBD and a tasking unit set up to address issues in the mall was “getting some really good results”.
A taskforce made up of traders, schools and other agencies had also been finding success in identifying the roots of the problems, he said, and were making sure the young people were able to access appropriate assistance and services.
Mr Smyth said the council had recently asked the community to submit their ideas on how the mall could be used and it was working through those suggestions.
The more people using public spaces such as the mall, he said, the less likely it was that violent and offensive incidents would occur.
“We actually want people to be coming into the CBD and supporting businesses and participating in activities, we just obviously don’t want (antisocial behaviour),” Mr Smyth said.