[By Chris Slee] At its June 12 meeting, Moreland Council voted to accept a state government offer of funding to install CCTV cameras along Sydney Road. The offer was made following the rape and murder of Brunswick resident Jill Meagher in a side street near Sydney Road last year. Interest was high with 30-40 people in the gallery, most obviously opposed to the decision.
Three of the 11 councillors voted against the motion. They were Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton and Greens councillors Samantha Ratnam and Lenka Thomson.
Moving the motion, ALP councillor Lambros Tapinos claimed that many residents have told him they want CCTV. He said it would assist in the arrest of perpetrators of crimes, and would assist police in patrolling Sydney Road and dispersing crowds outside late night venues.
Mayor Oscar Yildiz, also an ALP member, congratulated the Coalition state government for offering the money.
Speaking against the motion, Ratnam cited a council-run survey of Moreland residents in which 60% of respondents said they do not want CCTV. She referred to research showing that CCTV does not prevent crimes. She said that CCTV is very expensive to run, and would take money away from other measures to reduce violence such as improved lighting. She noted that domestic violence services and public housing, which are crucial in reducing violence in the home, are under-funded.
Bolton said the state government’s offer of money for CCTV is part of its law-and-order agenda. The government is not offering money for other more effective measures against violence, such as better street lighting, late night buses, family violence services, and education to combat violence against women. She cited the need for improved lighting on the Upfield line bike path.
She pointed out that the government is offering money only for installation of the cameras, and not for the unknown ongoing cost of running CCTV.
Bolton noted that the organisers of the huge Reclaim the Night march along Sydney Road following Meagher’s death were opposed to CCTV cameras.