Queenstown’s big brother upgrade

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Queenstown police are asking for more crime-fighting cameras to keep watch on the resort’s streets. 

The force is in initial discussions with Queenstown Lakes District Council about increasing the number of CCTV cameras downtown. 

The 17-camera network is owned by the council but the feed is monitored by police from a bank of screens at the station. 

New cameras with higher resolution are on the table, along with increased lighting in dark spots. 

“They are a brilliant tool and have solved a lot of stuff for us,” senior sergeant John Fookes says. 

“We’ve got a CBD that’s nice and condensed, so it works well. 

“We’ve met with QLDC in recent weeks … looking at the larger picture of crime prevention and safety, and where CCTV fits into that.” 

The digital system was installed a little over two years ago, 12 cameras at a cost of $150,000 with five added since then. 

It’s been largely heralded as a success, although some images have lacked clarity. 

“As everybody knows, technology in this area – surveillance cameras – moves really fast, and resolution improves,” Fookes says. 

“And I think as a general statement bang-for-buck prices are coming down.” 

Fookes says the cameras help police with detection, and images published on the force’s Facebook page and in the media have helped identify unknown offenders. 

The footage has also been used as evidence in court. 

Most of the crimes caught on camera were committed late at night or early in the morning and often at weekends. 

They include alcohol-fuelled crimes, assaults, graffiti, urination in public and theft. 

“We’ve got a good Facebook following here, a very supportive community, and the media publish shots, so we get a great strike rate,” Fookes says. 

“It’s really efficient and effective.” 

Council spokeswoman Michele Poole confirms it’s working with police and businesses to establish the best places for additional cameras and lighting downtown. 

But she adds: “There are no firm plans and no budgets at this stage.”