by Kerry Monaghan. — Helping to create a safer place for locals to work, live and play is the number one priority that has lead to the decision to upgrade the public safety camera system in Papakura’s town centre.
The expansion project is being led by the Papakura Business Association who owns the existing Closed-Circuit Television system (CCTV) and is in joint operation with the Papakura Local Board and Papakura Police.
Papakura Business Association Chair, Neil O’Connor says it was during the end of his first full year as Board Chair when the Association started funding the implementation of its CCTV.
“We spent around $120,000 and during that time, now in my third term as Board Chair, the funding has increased to around $30,000 including funding from the Whitehouse Trust that will continue to go towards the cost of extra cameras and improving software capacity.”
Currently, there are cameras that monitor Great South Road, Papakura Town Centre, Avril and Railway Street West through to Broadway and O’Shannessy, and with the upgrade, cameras will be expanded to more areas.
As part of the upgrade and with its partnership with Police, the CCTV system was moved over to Papakura Police Station six months ago, where it is monitored by Crime Watch Volunteers.
Neil says the initial problem wasn’t just the expense of the operation but finding people to recruit that would be proactive in monitoring the cameras, until Crime Watch volunteered.
“Normally, CCTV is monitored by security, but we had to start somewhere, and Crime Watch were keen to do it as they are all volunteers, and it adds to what they already do in Papakura. We negotiated with them and moved it to a section of the police station behind where a desk sergeant sits.” says Neil.
The Crime Watch Volunteers are trained, and police vetted, monitoring the cameras Monday through Friday with two- hour shifts and are looking to expand those hours to include evenings.
Since its move, there has been a positive response and it has already seen improvements with reaction to incidents faster thanks to the Crime watch Volunteers.
Neil says now that it has been put in place, the Papakura Business Association wants to take it to the next level, which requires more funding, that will come from the Papakura Local Board.
This funding, of around $160,000 will not only boost the recording and viewing capability of the cameras but will help fund another part of the initiative to help support future expansion of the system to other sites outside of Papakura Town centre.
Neil says with the improvements they are doing to the CCTV system, they are creating a capability that if other areas have CCTV around the Papakura local board area, there will be a system put in place to help view their cameras with permission, if incidents occur, so the police can respond accordingly.
“Working together with other areas, like Takanini, allows us to share our capability to help, should they need it. They can provide a log in so those who are viewing the cameras can log into their CCTV and see what’s going on,”
“We’ve done a lot of research into it, and if you’re going to get the Local Board involved, with the amount of funding we have received, we can’t just selfishly look after Papakura Town Centre and no where else, of course, if other areas want to take advantage of this, there is a cost.” says Neil.
Papakura Business Association expects to see the expansion of additional cameras and software upgrades to be implemented
throughout the rest of the year, and to be able to support the future safety of other sites to be fully up and running within the next four to five months. Funding from the Local Board will continue to be rolled out during this time.
“This is a significant lift-up from where we currently are, and a positive one moving forward.” says Neil.
Crimewatch are looking for more volunteers to help monitor the CCTV system that operates out of Papakura Police Station. Volunteers are subjected to Police vetting and full training will be given. CCTV cameras are monitored Monday-Friday during the day and will be looking to expand into evening hours. Information and enquiries about volunteering please Papakura Police Station, or contact Crime watch Chairperson, Glenn Torrens- firstname.lastname@example.org