More CCTV could be a deterrent to Hargreaves Mall crime, Bendigo police say

Police and ambulance officers attend a violent incident in Hargreaves Mall last month, in which a man was pepper sprayed. Bendigo police say greater CCTV coverage can be a deterrent to crime. Picture: ADAM HOLMES

Police and ambulance officers attend a violent incident in Hargreaves Mall last month, in which a man was pepper sprayed. Bendigo police say greater CCTV coverage can be a deterrent to crime. Picture: ADAM HOLMES

Related: Mall bush shelter a ‘magnet’ for anti-social behaviour

POLICE say better CCTV coverage in Hargreaves Mall can help to address and prevent anti-social behaviour after a spike in violent incidents over the Christmas and New Year’s period.

Bendigo police have been working with the City of Greater Bendigo and Public Transport Victoria to find new ways to prevent crime in the mall, particularly among young people.

The Liberal Party promised the city $245,000 in extra CCTV cameras for Hargreaves Mall during last year’s federal election campaign.

Sergeant Matt Hunt, who heads a Hargreaves Mall tasking unit, said the cameras were needed to give police more tools – and to act as a deterrent for offenders.

“CCTV covers a lot of the area within the mall, but it would be great if there was better coverage,” he said.

“Police are still capturing events that happen.

“If there’s an incident in the mall, we need people to contact us because we can get someone onto the cameras straight away.”

Despite losing in the seat of Bendigo, the funding was still expected to be delivered.

The Attorney-General department wrote to the City of Greater Bendigo following last year’s election, promising the CCTV money would be available during a funding round towards the end of 2016.

City of Greater Bendigo acting director health and wellbeing Andy Walker said the application period closed in early February.

“In order to receive this funding, the city must submit a formal application and the application must be successful,” he said.

“The city is currently in the process of preparing its application in consultation with Victoria Police.”

There are 24 CCTV cameras throughout the Bendigo CBD.

A business owner told the Bendigo Advertiser this week that crime at the Mitchell Street end of Hargreaves Mall had increased since the installation of a bus shelter last year.

She was concerned the shelter was not achieving its desired purpose, and was instead acting as a meeting place for large groups, resulting in fights.

One business owner suggested a permanent police presence in the mall.

Sergeant Hunt said police were aware of the concerns of business owners near the shelter, and were actively seeking solutions.

“We’re aware of the grievances when it comes to people congregating up that end of the mall, and we’re working hard to ensure it’s a safe place. But we can’t be there all the time,” he said.

“We’re not just mall-centric, and due to other priorities we cannot be in the mall all the time.

“We’re still following the same objectives from July last year.”

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