Grafton warned to beware CCTV cost

TOO expensive and ineffective.

That’s the assessment of Lismore’s CCTV system offered by former Lismore councillor Roslyn Irwin, who saw the introduction of camera surveillance in the city in 1998.

“It’s really local councils taking responsibility for what really is a police issue,” said Dr Irwin, who was on the Lismore City Council from 1991 to 2008.

“Local governments across Australia are struggling because of this type of cost-shifting.

“At the time (1998) the business community was really pushing for it and they said they were going to pay for the capital but, of course, they didn’t raise enough money and council came through for the shortfall and developed CitySafe.”

A supporter of the installation of CCTV at the outset, Dr Irwin said that over time it became evident the system was not effective in reducing serious crime.

“Frankly I think they (CCTV systems) are not worth it,” she said. “Real crime simply moves away from the surveilled area, so then everybody wants to have it expanded. Once you’ve started – there is no way back – it expands.”

Dr Irwin also raised concerns about what was truly valued when CCTV was placed in the CBD of a town.

“The crime moves out to where there are no cameras – to where the people are – not just property, as in the main streets.”

Dr Irwin’s comments are in contrast to those of police and business leaders in the Clarence Valley who are calling for CCTV to be installed as part of a crime-prevention strategy.

Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell and Detective Inspector Greg Moore, of Lismore police, both said earlier this week the system had been effective in reducing crime in the CBD. The system is funded through a council-administered business levy.

Lismore’s CitySafe program also employs a bus for low-cost late night transport for revellers.

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