Federal government awards $245k to Bendigo council for CCTV cameras in CBD

UPDATE, 5.50pm: The federal government will fund a suite of new CCTV cameras in Bendigo, a move it says will crack down on crime inside the CBD.

Liberal party senator Jane Hume announced on Thursday the $245,000 grant, which the City of Greater Bendigo will use to replace 23 security cameras and install another 15 devices. 

Additional cameras are destined for Hargreaves Mall, Rosalind Park and other sites not yet surveilled by the city’s CCTV system. 

City of Greater Bendigo community partnerships manager Steven Abbott welcomed the funding, saying the cameras would act as a deterrent to would-be criminals and safeguard the community in places where CCTV “gaps” existed. 

“They'll record you if you perpetrate a crime,” Mr Abbott warned.

The digital upgrade meant the footage, which was streamed directly to Victoria Police’s Bendigo headquarters, will be of improved quality and aid in criminal investigations, Mr Abbott said.

The CCTV investment is part of the government’s Safer Communities Grant scheme and was first pledged by Liberal party candidate Megan Purcell during last year’s election campaign. 

The Liberal party agreed to stand by the promise despite Ms Purcell losing out on the seat to incumbent Labor MP Lisa Chesters.  

Ms Hume said CCTV cameras were “pivotal” to solving and preventing crime. 

“As any local knows, the Bendigo CBD has seen increasing rates of criminal activity including theft, vandalism, and drug use,” she said.

“That’s why the [grant] is such a significant and important investment.”

Funding for more CCTV coverage follows an almost 30 per cent hike in the city’s recorded crime rate last year.

Court orders breaches, thefts, criminal damage and assaults were among the most common offences committed.  

Cameras will be installed within the next 12 months.  

Asked whether could stop crimes from occurring, rather than just documenting them, Mr Abbott said: “I think prevention is always better than following up crimes. 

“This is only one small part of an overall plan to improve community safety.” 

The local government was also creating open thoroughfares in which it would be more difficult to surreptitiously commit a crime, Mr Abbott said. He described the security measure as “passive surveillance”.

Among the areas due for opening up include the space between the Rosalind Park poppet head, Ulumbarra theatre and Bendigo Senior Secondary College, where fences will be removed to encourage the movement of people. 

Federal justice minister Michael Keenan also argued prevention was the best form of offence against crime, saying his government had a strong track record of community protection. 

“Our top priority will always be to keep our citizens and our communities safe.”

EARLIER: The federal government will fund a suite of CCTV cameras for Bendigo it says will prevent crime inside the CBD.

Liberal party senator Jane Hume today announced the $245,000 in funding for the City of Greater Bendigo to install 38 new cameras. 

The investment is part of the government’s Safer Communities Grant scheme and was first pledged by Liberal party candidate Megan Purcell during last year’s election campaign.

Ms Hume said CCTV cameras were “pivotal” in solving and preventing crime.

“As any local knows, the Bendigo CBD has seen increasing rates of criminal activity including theft, vandalism, and drug use,” she said.

More to come.