The CCTV debate

Backdropped by a London landmark, Nelson's Column, in Trafalgar Square, a closed-circuit surveillance camera keeps watch, in central London. Picture Lefteris Pitarakis

Backdropped by a London landmark, Nelson's Column, in Trafalgar Square, a closed-circuit surveillance camera keeps watch, in central London. Picture Lefteris Pitarakis

THE installation of CCTV cameras prompted hot debate at last week’s Shellharbour City Council meeting. 

Councillor Kellie Marsh moved a motion asking the council to investigate installing CCTV cameras at the Shellharbour Village War memorial. The request followed a recent incident whereby a teenager knocked off the top of the memorial. The boy and his family came forward and covered the cost of the damge.

 “Next time around we might not have a perpetrator’s father with deep pockets,” Cr Marsh said.

“Being one of the oldest War Memorials in NSW, it holds a lot of significance from both a heritage and local perspective. 

 “I understand there are a lot of critics against CCTV but it’s a great deterrent and personally, I think if anyone touches our war memorials in Australia and especially Shellharbour, they need to be held to account.”

However, Cr Paul Rankin said the installation of CCTV was a “very dangerous path to take”, after CCTV installations in the Shoalhaven area blew out by $300,000.

“We don’t know what the associated costs are going to be after the installation,” Cr Rankin said.

“Other problems we could encounter is that the images are kept for 30 days, so we have to find somewhere to store the images.... and other problems that potentially breach of the privacy act.”

Cr Peter Moran said CCTV cameras carried a “whole new field” of issues around personal privacy that would have to be dealt with by a council policy. 

“Who will have access to the footage?, for what purpose? all of these things need to be dealt with in a policy specific to CCTV cameras,” Cr Moran said. 

“It’s not a silver bullet, it is effective and it does have its uses but it brings with it some dangers.

 “There is also a significant body of evidence that suggests that although they are an effective investigative tool, they are not necessarily an effective way of preventing criminal activity.”

Cr Helen Stewart suggested investigations into better lighting be included in the report. 

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