Shire tries to hide total failure of street cameras
A VIOLENT car-jacking in Stirling Terrace in which a woman was serious injured last month has exposed a complete breakdown in the town’s street video security network operated by the Shire of Toodyay.
None of the shire’s 19 video security street cameras mounted at key locations around town have worked for months.
A shire camera (left) outside the Toodyay Library facing last month’s car-jacking (see this month’s Police Beat column) was out of action when the crime occurred, and there was no shire video to provide evidence for police and insurers.
The shire decided several weeks ago not to replace faulty equipment at its Fiennes Street office but kept quiet about it to fool people into thinking that the cameras still worked.Read more
Last month’s car-jack video failure followed an incident last October when a local schoolgirl went missing in Duidgee Park in an area monitored by a faulty shire camera.
The camera – which frequently jammed in one position for long periods or pointed at roofs and trees – only by accident flicked past a vehicle licence plate that enabled police to locate the unharmed girl in Perth.
The shire wrote in its March Toodyay Community Newsletter that it had obtained a $300,000 Federal Government grant to upgrade the town’s video security network.
The money was announced by local Federal MP and Liberal Attorney-General Christian Porter eight weeks before Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government was re-elected in a tightly fought campaign.
“No one should have to fear for their safety,”Mr Porter said in his announcement.
The shire’s March newsletter said contracts had been signed and the project “would commence in the near future”.
All shire CCTV cameras – except those with licence plate recognition – would be replaced, and an additional three new cameras installed on new poles.
“The system will run on a new dedicated server with the police station receiving a new monitor,” the shire said.
However, when the shire was asked to provide video footage of last month’s car-jacking, it was revealed that none of the shire’s cameras were working and had all been out of action for “a few months”.
Further inquiries revealed that local police no longer had access to any street camera vision and had dismantled their equipment until a new shire monitor is installed.
It is understood that a computer server at the shire’s administration centre in Fiennes Street failed several weeks ago.
The shire decided not to spend money on replacing the faulty equipment and chose instead to wait until its new $300,000 system is installed.
It said the presence of street cameras deterred crime, regardless of whether they worked or not.
Shire President Brian Rayner was asked the following Herald questions last month:
- How long has this camera (at the car-jacking) been out of action?
- When will it be repaired?
- How many other shire video security cameras are not working?
- How long have they been out of action?
- When will they be repaired?
- How has this been allowed to happen?
- Who is responsible for this?
- What message do you have to allay local businesses and community concerns about public safety in our streets and parks when there is substantial evidence that shire video security cameras have not worked properly since at least 2014?
“As you know the Shire of Toodyay was successful in obtaining a $300,000 grant to upgrade its CCTV infrastructure.
“This work is underway at present and we expect the work to be largely complete by the end of September.
“The project will upgrade CCTV infrastructure in public and community spaces throughout the Town Centre.
“The project will see the replacement of 17 old external CCTV cameras, installation of 22 new CCTV cameras for a total network of 41 cameras, more than double the old network.
“It will also include new five-metre‘break back’ poles in various key locations around the community.
“All old CCTV and wireless links will be decommissioned, with a newly designed ‘end-to-end’ wireless link being supplied and installed between each device and CCTV head end.
“This project is being delivered as a partnership between Toodyay Police, Safer Toodyay, the Shire of Toodyay and Telstra.
“During the course of the installation some CCTV infrastructure may not be working.
“I do not intend to comment on which cameras or when.
“CCTV performs a role in detecting and preventing crime.
“I have no intention of undermining the deterrence by commenting on which cameras may or may not be out of action and at what time during the implementation process.”