Extra eyes will be watching summer holiday revellers this year after the first of nine closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras was installed in Warrnambool’s city centre yesterday.
The state-of-the-art camera was connected in Ozone car park, with remaining cameras to be placed over the next fortnight at six other trouble “hot spots” — the intersections of Timor and Liebig streets, Timor and Kepler streets, Koroit and Kepler streets, in Koroit Street, Liebig Street, and three cameras at the intersection of Timor and Gilles streets.
The CCTV project is a partnership between Warrnambool City Council and Warrnambool police, with input from community stakeholders such as taxi drivers and licensed venue operators, to help decide the location of each camera.
Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said the surveillance cameras would be extremely useful tools in creating a safer environment within the CBD, including the entertainment precinct.
“If people don’t have anything to hide and if people are behaving correctly, there’s no need to fear these cameras,” Cr Neoh said.
“In initial stages it looked like we’d have to hold the footage at council but we’ve come up with a best-case scenario where the police will passively monitor it.
“That (help) of the police has been critical.
“You can always go to the footage after the fact but if we can prevent an incident snowballing, that’s one of the positives.”
The cameras will become operational next month and will function 24 hours a day.
Senior Sergeant Shane Keogh said the footage would be stored on a police hard drive for up to 28 days after recording.
“We’ll monitor the live feedback from the streets ... right next to our cell monitors,” he said.
“We’re not here to do minor traffic or breach anyone’s civil liberties — this is here to prevent crime and provide evidence for crimes committed.
“Once a crime is committed we’ve failed our job and it’s good the state government and council have come on board to assist the police in achieving that aim and preventing crime.
“Over the years we’ve seen the benefits of having CCTV in place.”
The state government funded $168,000 for the CCTV project, while WCC provided $25,000.
Cr Neoh said a survey early last year showed a high level of community support for CCTV cameras within the city centre.