Multi-level collaboration

THE message to people participating in antisocial behaviour in the Traralgon multi-storey car park is clear: we will be watching you.

At last week’s Latrobe City Council meeting, council agreed to work in collaboration with Traralgon police and a local business to discuss the installation of at least four close-circuit television cameras to boost security in the car park.

The 310-space car park, which was officially opened in February 2009, has been a concern for regular users, including staff of Alan Wilson Insurance Broker, several of whom have reportedly felt threatened by persons loitering in the area.

“There has been at least one occasion where a suspicious person was seen lurking in the stairwell; some staff have had their vehicles vandalised, there is graffiti and property damage to our building and signage,” Alan Wilson Insurance Brokers operations manager Steve Callahan said.

“We have contacted police a number of times with regard to young people climbing across the roofs of the office buildings, as well as a number of our staff being followed through the car park to their cars.”

Mr Callahan said when the matter was raised with the business’ landlord, a suggestion to install cameras overlooking the top of the building was mooted, but the business felt it would like to contribute to installing cameras at the front and rear of its office.

“When we heard council were considering putting cameras in, we suggested a possible joint-venture arrangement,” he said, adding he was due to meet council officers this week to discuss the logistics and feasibility of the proposal.

“We have 15 car parks (there) which we pay $15,000 a year for; the safety of our staff is a major concern and we would make a sizeable contribution (to upgrade the security),” Mr Callahan said.

“We can’t sit on our hands.

“Hopefully the installation of cameras will be a deterrent; we have offered, if additional cameras are put in, to run the feed to our building.”

Traralgon police Sergeant Jeff Graham echoed Mr Callahan’s hopes to improve safety, saying the surveillance cameras would help police assess issues as they occurred and help them to be proactive.

At present, there is a proposal between council and police to have CCTV imagery transmitted to the police station to be recorded and checked regularly.

However, he said despite this matter being raised at the Traralgon CBD Safety Committee meetings several times, police actually “received very few calls about problems in this location”.

“If people in this area consider there are problems requiring police attendance, please call,” Sgt Graham said.

Traralgon Safety CBD chair and Dunbar ward councillor Dale Harriman said he encountered a similar situation, where anecdotal evidence of people feeling unsafe had been raised, but he had not personally received any reports.

“I believe the cameras will help alleviate this; it provides the police a great tool to follow up with,” Cr Harriman said.

He understood council officers had received quotations on the cost of the installation and the four cameras would be installed, hopefully “as soon as possible” with a review of its efficiency to be undertaken in six months.

“It would be a really good investment for the peace of mind for the people of Traralgon,” he said.

“I would like to see all areas of the car park covered (by CCTV cameras); (as many as it takes) would be enough.”