Community safety forum discusses CCTV

[By Chris Slee] About 50 people attended a community safety forum organized by Moreland Council on April 24. The proposal for the installation of closed circuit TV on Moreland streets was controversial.  It was strongly advocated by Moreland mayor Oscar Yildiz (ALP), and supported by federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson and state ALP MP Jane Garrett.

Carolyn Whitzman, Associate Professor of Urban Planning of Melbourne University, said that CCTV can be useful in certain circumstances.  However it is costly to implement and maintain, and monitoring is usually ineffective.  It is therefore necessary to consider whether the money could be better spent elsewhere.

She said that crime prevention requires a coordinated policy, including early intervention and adequate housing and income support.  She said that most violence occurs in the home, but services for family violence have been cut back by the current Victorian state government.

During the discussion period Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton said that money should be spent on programs to prevent family violence, rather than on CCTV.  For safer streets, money should be spent on better street lighting, restoration of public phones, etc.

Most people who spoke in the discussion period were opposed to CCTV.  Some highlighted the possible misuse of CCTV pictures.  Oscar Yildiz was asked who would be monitoring CCTV in Moreland.  He said it had not been decided yet.

Police Inspector Dean McGowan said that in cases where the police are in charge of monitoring CCTV, they do not monitor it continuously but glance at it occasionally and look at it after a crime has been reported.

The state government has been waging a media campaign pressuring Moreland council to accept CCTV.  It is offering some funding for CCTV, but the council will also have to contribute.  It is not offering money for other, more effective anti-violence measures.

Socialist Alliance members distributed a leaflet on the topic to those attending (see below).