Watch out Queenstown – bigger brother is watching you.
CCTV cameras in Queenstown are now being monitored by police down the road in Dunedin and plans are afoot to install more within the CBD.
Queenstown Lakes District Council confirms it’s working with police to develop a 15-year plan for the whole CCTV camera network in Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka.
Council comms manager Michele Poole tells Mountain Scene it could include mobile cameras for events, as well as the fixed sites.
Queenstown’s senior sergeant Paula Enoka says it’s going through the intel process - looking at where any additional cameras will be best located.
That’ll be determined by areas of increased call-out levels, or where cameras can help gather evidence.
The existing 17-camera network is owned by the council and the feed is only observed occasionally by police from a bank of screens at the station.
“We don’t allocate staff at the moment to monitor it,” Enoka says.
“We use CCTV more as an investigative tool - operationally we prefer to have our staff out and about rather than manning cameras here.”
Enoka says central monitoring in Dunedin is simply an additional tool for local cops.
“While the community may think it is solely Queenstown police dealing with local issues, the reality is the entire district pools resources.”
Dunedin has 24/7 access to Queenstown computers and cameras. They can identify developing trends and deploy staff to an area where an incident may be starting to occur.
“In a sense that is where the prevention comes from,” she says.
Its main successes are when officers are on the beat - and Enoka reckons policing is best done face-to-face.
She recognises the thin blue line can’t be everywhere though: “Cameras add value to assist in having eyes where we may not be at that particular time.”
Councillor Cath Gilmour agrees and says monitoring in Dunedin adds to the service offered by Queenstown police.
“If it is being monitored in Dunedin then at least it is being monitored,” Gilmour says.
“Queenstown is understaffed, it makes much more sense to have it monitored so [Dunedin police] can alert local staff if there are any problems.”
Gilmour reckons its a logical step - rather than tying officers up watching a screen at the station.
The digital system was installed in 2012, initially with 12 cameras at a cost of $150,000.
Five have been added since then.
No decisions on timing or costs have been agreed yet.