The City of Greater Bendigo has bolstered surveillance across well-travelled areas of the central business district, which police believe will enhance its ability to prosecute offenders.
State and federal government grants totalling more than $350,000 have allowed the COGB to increase its suite of CCTV cameras from 23 to 123.
Hargreaves Mall – the shopping strip long associated with antisocial behaviour – now has 21 cameras instead of five.
New areas covered by cameras include the roundabout at the intersection of Lyttleton Terrace, Hopetoun St and Mundy St, the centre of Bull St, Sydney Myer Place-Bendigo Magistrates’ Court, Rosalind Plaza and the Bendigo library gardens.
A further 17 cameras were installed at Mitchell Lane and Bolton Lane off Mitchell Street and the Coles multi-level car park off Lyttleton Terrace.
COGB manager of Information Technology David Straw said a review of CCTV was undertaken with Bendigo Police, who would be able to monitor the streamed footage around the clock from the police station.
Mr Straw said the expanded project would reduce crime, improve public safety, provide property security and create a safer and vibrant city centre.
Inspector Shane Brundell said the new cameras had improved the footage, making it “really, really good quality” from an evidence perspective. “We've already seen the benefits of those (cameras) with recording incidents and identifying offenders,” he said.
“There's more cameras than what previously existed so if people are going to break the law there's a greater chance they'll be captured on CCTV, identified and prosecuted.”
The extra surveillance would act as a deterrent for most, improve overall safety within the city centre and assist policing for larger community events, like the upcoming White Night, Inspector Brundell said.
Police would have a visible presence at the first instalment of the festival in Bendigo, which had also been held for a number of years in Melbourne, and more recently Ballarat.
Inspector Brundell said the extra police was focused around community engagement rather than strict deterrence at the alcohol-free event.
“The CCTV is a great tool for us to respond to incidents, record and capture the evidence for when people have broken the law. It’s not designed to keep surveillance on people going about their lawful day-to-day activities,” he said.
The Hargreaves Mall was identified as an area of greatest need during discussions because the transport hub end of the shopping strip was highly used, Inspector Brundell said.
The COGB said it was close to finalising the installation of all of the new cameras, as the Opposition continued to roll out promises ahead of the state election.
As part of its multi-million dollar law and order pitch, the Liberal and National parties would make grants of up to $250,000 available to local councils to develop public safety and security infrastructure.
The state government provided a $122,350 grant from its Community Crime Prevention Program to install 17 extra cameras in the CBD.
Former policeman Ian Ellis will challenge incumbent MP Jacinta Allan in the seat of Bendigo East. Earlier this year he advocated for return to the police in schools program to improve relationships between youngsters and authority.
However, Ms Allan at the time said Victoria Police was already working with young people in schools and on the street through a range of programs.
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