CCTV cameras go on
IT is hoped a network of monitored CCTV cameras will help visitors to a busy town centre feel safer.
The Albert-Eden Local Board has teamed up with the Mt Albert Business and Community Association and the area’s community patrol to organise CCTV coverage for the area around the Mt Albert village.
It is expected about 10 cameras will begin operating by the end of the month, and they will be constantly monitored by Mt Albert security firm Greene Security.
‘‘They’ll be focusing on the blind spots and the areas where people find it easy to get away with behaviour that is not acceptable,’’ local board member Pauline Anderson says.
It’s been on the cards for two years, she says.
‘‘We were having quite a few issues.
‘‘The daytime issues seem to have settled down but the nighttime issues seem to have escalated.
‘‘We’re getting vandalism, graffiti, urination, alleged drug dealing, fights and arson.
‘‘An aggravated robbery recently at an internet cafe was really the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused us to force the issue.
‘‘The whole idea with the CCTV is to make Mt Albert at night a much more pleasant and safer place to be because at the moment there seems to be the wrong people that are coming here.’’
She says some businesses are open 24/7 and could be bringing in an anti-social element.
Mrs Anderson says the recordings will be made available only to police.
‘‘This is not big brother. It’s not just available for anyone to go and have a look at just because they want to have a gander at what’s going on.’’
The board is chipping in $22,500 towards the initial costs and another $2000 is expected to be raised from businesses. Mt Albert Business and Community Groups Association member Catherine Goodwin sees the cameras as an important step in the business area’s regeneration.
She is the general manager of Goodwin Realty which has been a victim of crime. In February last year its premises on Mt Albert Rd was set alight.
‘‘The fire was known to have been caused by members of the vagrant groups that had begun frequenting Mt Albert after dark,’’ she says.
‘‘A lack of physical evidence or credible witnesses however meant no-one was ever charged.
‘‘The problems we’ve had here are to the exclusion of those we want here. We want families to walk down here at night for a meal, but they were choosing not to come to the village because they didn’t feel safe.
‘‘This is rather an exciting point because the rejuvenation process is actually in play. The train station is about to open with its new design and this will again encourage people to think ‘oh there’s something worth coming into Mt Albert for’.’’
Sergeant Geoff Medland is in charge of the policing team that covers the area.
He says a perceived increase in crime could be attributed to higher reporting because of the more frequent patrols his team is doing in the area.
Mr Medland says CCTV can be helpful in dealing with crime, but there are other factors and options that also need to be considered.
We’re watching: Mt Albert Business and Community Groups Association member Catherine Goodwin, Albert-Eden Local Board member Pauline Anderson, and Mt Albert Community Patrols member Tony Mayes hope a new CCTV system will make people feel safer.