Saturday, September 18, 2021

CCTV to focus on Monash centre

Monash Council will install closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras to monitor the Oakleigh Activity Centre in real time after a Council survey found most community members supported the idea.

Council currently operates and manages 17 fixed CCTV surveillance systems within its facilities and open space.

Following a number of reported theft and anti-social incidents – including the fatal stabbing of a young man in 2020 – in and around the Oakleigh Activity Centre, the Victorian Government has offered to contribute $50,000 for the purchase and installation of CCTV cameras.

Council will contribute $2,500 to $5,000 a year for ongoing maintenance of the cameras. Oakleigh Police will conduct the surveillance. 

A Council-commissioned report involving a Monash-wide community engagement process found general support for the move, Council said in a statement.

JWS Research conducted 500 phone surveys and a Shape Monash web page enabled online feedback and surveys. The process drew 486 responses from residents and non-residents.

Asked about the use of Council assets and resources for the real-time monitoring and video surveillance of activity by Victoria Police:

  • Most phone respondents (78%) supported the proposal, including 46% who ‘strongly’ supported it. Almost seven in 10 online respondents (68%) supported it, with 60% offering strong support.
  • Nine in 10 phone respondents (91%) agreed that CCTV was appropriate to help community safety. Of those who responded online, 71% agreed.
  • Three in four phone (75%) and 65% of online respondents said it was appropriate to use Council assets such as CCTV cameras for live monitoring and surveillance of people by Victoria Police.
  • Seven in 10 (71%) phone and 62% of online respondents said it was appropriate for Council to fund the ongoing maintenance of the State Government funded cameras.
  • Most respondents were not concerned about invasion of privacy or feeling uncomfortable.
  • About three in 10 (29% phone and 33% online) said real-time CCTV monitoring in public areas would ‘invade my privacy’.
  • Around one in four (23%) of phone and 31% of online respondents said they would feel uncomfortable accessing public spaces and areas with real-time CCTV monitoring.

Monash Mayor, Brian Little said Council took seriously its responsibility to ensure individual privacy was maintained in managing CCTV systems.

Mayor Little said Council’s current CCTV Policy did not factor in real-time monitoring, so it would be reviewed and amended to comply with Victorian regulations for this project.

“We need to ensure that the policy and this project are consistent with human rights, Freedom of Information, privacy, data protection, and surveillance laws,” he said.

Mayor Little said as part of the installation process, officers would consult relevant community members, Victoria Police, traders and businesses near the proposed cameras.

“Council will also conduct more detailed work on the proposed sites,” he said.

“So far they include the Council-owned Chester Street and Hanover Street carparks.” 

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