[By Kerry Smith] “CCTV cameras may document crime but do not prevent it. The Moreland municipality has the second-highest rate of family violence in Victoria. Most violent crime in Moreland is family violence. This means that there is an epidemic of family violence in Moreland,” said the Socialist Alliance’s Moreland councillor Sue Bolton.
At its March 13 council meeting, Moreland council passed a community safety motion to start an immediate expansion of CCTV cameras.
The Moreland council was offered funding by the state government that could be spent only on CCTV cameras.
Greens councillor Samantha Ratnam tried to amend the motion so that community consultation would be held before CCTV was installed. The amendment was lost on the casting vote of the mayor.
Bolton was the only councillor to vote against the substantive motion for a roll-out of CCTV cameras.
Moreland council has delayed discussion on other safety measures such as improved street lighting, programs to address family violence, education campaigns about gendered violence and better late-night transport.
Bolton tried to propose alternatives for safer streets, such as a community bus funded by council with contributions from late night venues. Such buses are funded by clubs and casinos in NSW and Queensland because of drink driving laws.
Two ways to ensure safer streets at night are better street and bike path lighting and accessible public transport. Tackling rape culture through education is also important.
Bolton said CCTV cameras may document crime but they would not prevent crime.
Research by the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Sydney Institute of Criminology says if there is a link between crime prevention and CCTV cameras, it is likely that it only displaces crime to other areas, rather than prevents it.
At a Brunswick community meeting of about 100 residents in November, the only person to advocate CCTV cameras was Moreland Mayor Oscar Yildiz. Even the police spokesperson at the meeting said more CCTV cameras were not the answer because the main cause of violent crime was family violence.
Bolton said: “Immediately after the tragic murder of … Jill Meagher, the state government tried to take advantage of the tragedy by turning the tragedy into a law and order issue.
“This is hypocritical when services dealing with sexual assault and domestic violence are underfunded by both state and federal governments.
“A special curriculum has been developed for schools, which deals with the culture [that] produces anti-woman violence. The state government refuses to fund this curriculum to be provided in schools.
“If the council and the state government seriously believe that CCTV cameras reduce crime, they would be proposing to put CCTV cameras in individual houses given that family violence is the most prevalent violence.
“But they’re not proposing that so their only reason for promoting CCTV cameras is as a Big Brother measure to snoop on the public. It is likely that CCTV cameras will be used to harass people over petty issues, just like the Protective Services Officers have increased the harassment of homeless and mentally ill people over petty issues at train stations.
“CCTV cameras will not make our streets safer.”
[Green Left Weekly, March 16, 2013.]