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CCTV cameras set to replace street patrols

Apr 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

 WELLINGTON’S Walkwise patrol faces funding cuts as its contract comes up for renewal, which may mean greater reliance on CCTV cameras to prevent crime.

A team of 15 city safety officers is employed through private security firm Armourguard to patrol the inner city.

The same contractor is in charge of monitoring the 11 CCTV cameras placed around the inner city, in places like Manners St and Cuba Mall.

But the value of the programme is being questioned, and the council is proposing a  $150,000 cut in the draft long-term plan ahead of the contract renewal later this year.

Councillor Andy Foster is in favour of a review, and says the review will ask if funding crime prevention should be a police issue.

“As it stands, I would need some clear demonstration of value for money to see the service continued.”

Mr Foster questions the value of the $750,000 scheme during the day, and says he is interested in seeing alternatives.

Councillor Stephanie Cook says the rugby world cup offered a new perspective on how a city patrol system could operate.

“I support us continuing with a version of Walkwise and certainly do not support the notion of replacing paid work with volunteers as some have suggested,” she says.

Ms Cook says having CCTV cameras operating is no substitute for on the ground patrols.

“Having someone on hand to help if someone attacks you is a whole lot better than having a machine record it in the hope that the police might be able to identify the offender and prosecute.”

Councillor Justin Lester says a balance must be achieved between the two measures.

“I’d suggest any further use of CCTV is complementary to, rather than a replacement for patrols.

“Both need to be utilised to help prevent crime.”

Thomas Beagle of civil liberties group Tech Liberty says more widespread use of CCTV may lead to high tech surveillance.

Mr Beagle says modern surveillance methods can seriously intrude on the privacy of the individual.

“It is now possible to say ‘track this person’ and the system can then follow them through multiple cameras,” he says.

“Is this level of surveillance what we want? Has anyone asked us whether this is a good idea? What sort of controls should we put on the use of this information?”

CCTV is widely used for monitoring and crime prevetion in the UK, and research indicates there are more than 1.85 million cameras trained on public spaces.

Wellington is the only capital city in the world to have World Health Organisation Safe Community status, and over the past year reported crime has dropped 4.2% in the Wellington area.

The council’s draft plan is open for public submissions from April 16 until May 18, with final decisions made in early July.

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is A Journalism Student at Whitireia in Wellington, New Zealand. His specialty areas are digital culture, politics and cyber-crime.
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3 comments
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  1. The City is Ours in a Local Government Official Information request has asked the Council for the Walk-wise job-description. They represent more then just patrols on our streets and add value to the operations of the Wellington Police. City safety is important with population explosions recorded by New Zealand Statistics of 74% in the inner city over the last decade.

  2. Think walkwise should be dropped as tracking is obnoxious to individuals who have done nothing wrong.

  3. I value walkwise,I would prefer it to cameras.Cameras and very 1984 its something we really don’t need that much of.I had a walkwise man offer to protect my bike whilst I went to the library.In my experience they have been helpful.

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