MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors have rejected a suggestion that ratepayers’ money be used to provide police with CCTV cameras to catch hoon drivers.
Cr David Gill estimated it would cost $10,000 to $15,000 to provide police with a trailer fitted with cameras that could be placed in areas where hoon drivers were known to gather.
The mayor, Cr Steve Holland, who used his casting vote to defeat Gill’s suggestion of considering adding the cost of cameras for the police to the budget, he was concerned by “cost shifting”, from the state government to council.
“We have CCTV cameras to protect our own assets with a live feed to police,” he said.
Gill said he wanted council to consider buying the CCTV cameras if state and federal grants were not made.
He said it was difficult for police to monitor hoon drivers “in a timely way”.
Infrastructure services manager Tom Haines-Sutherland, in a report to council’s 21 March public meeting, said the shire’s CCTV policy stated that there needed to be “an evidence-based safety need” for cameras to be installed and used.
“CCTV must be installed and operated with due respect to personal privacy and civil liberties,” he said.
“The evidence-based needs analysis should determine if a system is justified with respect to strategic advice from Victoria Police, consider environmental measures, if the system will deliver footage to the police station and use the council CCTV assessment tool.”
Gill said the money for cameras should be referred to the budget “[where] we can address that need and vote for or against”.
“There’s no intention here to tell VicPol what to do or to or be involved in the process, it’s providing the means for them to do it and an instrument to monitor.
“Hoon driving is the prominent example where people are gone before police can get there.
“No matter how hard the police try, they need some surveillance of that, in a known location where it’s repetitive, but not the time when it’s going to happen.
“It comes regularly, but it might be in the middle of the night. It might be at any time where people group together to do this sort of thing.”
Gill said police had cameras for speeding and in shopping centres that council had helped provide.
“There’s nothing worse than hearing those noises of hoon driving while you’re asleep and waking up and wondering what’s happening. That’s the sort of reason for doing this.
“Police have told me it would be great to actually have their number plates and have the evidence and stop these people from these sometimes nuisance, sometimes dangerous, escapades.”
Gill said he was “not interested in setting up a big brother society” and would admit to making a mistake “if it goes wrong”.
Cr Sarah Race said council should lobby the state government and local MPs for more money for police on the peninsula.
“Bad behaviour is basically a symptom of an inequitable society and I think we need to be putting our money into preventing activities and supporting our community,” she said.
“I’m not sure how much mobile CCTV cameras cost, but that money could be put towards skateparks or graffiti walls or something to keep young people interested and active.”
Cr Despi O’Connor said council could “better engage our young people to stop some of these things happening in the first place”. “For me this is an upstream, downstream situation, let’s go back upstream and think out some of the equities in our society so that we don’t have the downstream issues that need to be captured by CCTV.”
Cr Susan Bissinger said police had told her they liked having mobile CCTV cameras and suggested businesses rather than council could pay for them.
Police in the past have asked peninsula residents to let them know if they have security cameras so they can be added to a secure database (“Police focussing on crime” The News 29/3/21).