Crime-fighting CCTV cameras for Queenstown

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Downtown Queens­town will be under the watchful eye of CCTV by Winter Festival in June. 

A $150,000 new surveillance camera system is scheduled to be installed during the next few months. 

Ten cameras at various locations around the town centre will provide widespread round-the-clock coverage. 

The images will be beamed back to the Queenstown police station where there’ll be a multi-screen control room. 

Senior constable Sean Drader says: “We’ve had CCTV before so we know the positive benefits. 

“The police and the council have a responsibility to keep our public places safe and it is very helpful with both detection and prevention. 

“When CCTV first came in the early 90s, it seemed Big Brother-ish and weird, but people are used to it now and expect it. 

“If they’ve had something stolen, been robbed or assaulted, they can’t believe there is not CCTV,” Drader says. 

“We’re lucky we have a small town centre – but we have a small pool of ratepayers to pay for a system as well. 

Hopefully it will prove its worth and we can slowly expand it year on year until we have a complete system.” 

Six firms, Otago and national, have been shortlisted and are to submit their tenders by Monday, February 20. 

One will be chosen by March 1 and the installation of the system, which will have a minimum design life of 10 years, will begin. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council has already begun installing independent power supplies at proposed sites. 

They include artery roads around central Queenstown and crime and disorder hotspots in the CBD – although the positions are subject to change dependent on possible line-of-sight problems and wireless interference. 

The cameras will be mounted on existing street light poles, except in one position, about five metres off the ground. 

They will be capable of producing high resolution and accurate colour images under a wide variety of conditions, in temperatures ranging from minus 10 degrees Celsius to 35. The cameras can automatically pixelate their own images if pointed at private property, such as through a house window. 

Council community services general manager Paul Wilson says having it up and running by Winter Festival is a realistic goal if everything goes smoothly in terms of the gear’s arrival from overseas. 

“We want quality equipment that is proven reliable. 

“You can go for high definition cameras today but they have extraordinary data requirements in terms of the amount of storage and transmission rates. 

“They are probably more likely to be standard definition cameras, which are still very good.” 

Drader can recall many occasions when a CCTV would have aided police operations. 

One instance was the manslaughter of Queenstown family man Mark Smith, 47, who died after being punched at a taxi rank by UK-born Paul Richards, 35, in November 2009. Richards was sentenced to two years’ jail and served 12 months. 

As it stands, police often use Queenstown businesses’ private CCTV systems to gain information and evidence.