Shoppingworld centre manager Greg Hayes in front of the CCTV monitors in the centre.
Shoppingworld centre manager Greg Hayes in front of the CCTV monitors in the centre.

Business calls for CCTV

CRIMINAL activities in and around Grafton and Yamba in recent weeks have revived the call for closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring in the Clarence Valley’s main centres.

Today, The Daily Examiner speaks to two key stakeholders in the debate – Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson and Grafton Chamber of Commerce President Jeremy Challacombe.

Tomorrow, Clarence police commander Chief Inspector Darren Spooner gives his take on the advantages of camera-monitoring and how it frees up police hours spent in court.

A senior Lismore-based police officer also gives his view on the CCTV issue tomorrow, after several successful years of the system’s operation in Lismore and Nimbin.

Clarence Valley Mayor, Richie Williamson says:

“CCTV cameras are not a high priority for the council at this stage, however, they are included in the crime prevention plan but remain unfunded as there is no budget for them either at state, federal or council level.

Secondly, there are other, more cost-effective measures to prevent crime. These include the reinstatement of the Street Cruze program which unfortunately lost its Federal Government funding.

There are a few issues or questions that need answering with regard to CCTV, which are:

(1) Will a model be for recording the criminal act only, that is, thefootage used for evidence, or is someone monitoring it constantly to prevent a crime taking place? The latter is a very expensive model. Any earlier discussions we’ve had with police indicate they would be happy to house the monitoring equipment but they would not be willing to monitor the system 24/7.

(2) Which area gets the video surveillance and which area won’t be covered. There are five major centres in the Clarence Valley.

(3) Who is going to pay for its installation and ongoing maintenance – at this time council does not have a budget for this nor a very accurate cost of the CCTV.

(4) If the cameras are installed, will the antisocial behaviour simply move to a location where there is no coverage. Crime prevention needs to take place on a number of different fronts.”

Grafton Chamber of Commerce president, Jeremy Challacombe says:

“For many years the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry has advocated the installation of CCTV cameras as part of a solution to the problem of criminal violence and damage in Prince Street. This was highlighted at the last chamber meeting, where CCTV was seen as one of the chamber’s highest priorities for 2010.

Incidents such as those that have occurred in the last week highlight the need for CCTV to be a priority; not only as a deterrent for such crimes, but they also can assist the police’s investigations after such events.

The biggest hurdles to installing CCTV are that of the cost of installing the entire system, and the running and location of the central monitoring base. However, given that many towns have set up and have been operating CCTV systems, these matters are obviously not insurmountable– rather it needs all businesses, the community and the council to prioritise the project, get behind it with financial support and a willingness to overcome all obstacles.

However, we would like to also point out that CCTV itself is not the answer to the social and criminal problems facing Grafton, and other town centres. Many commercial centres operate between 8am and 6pm, and without nightlife or residents living in the area, are usually poorly lit and devoid of witnesses – a situation that facilitates such criminal activity.”

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