By Kath Gannaway
The installation of CCTV cameras in Yarra Glen has been welcomed by the business community and local police.
The network of cameras which cover the main street, public areas, and motorists travelling in and out of the town, was officially launched on Saturday, 10 February, by Casey MP Tony Smith.
Mr Smith was joined by police and local traders for the launch which is the first of a planned expansion of CCTV cameras across Yarra Ranges.
Mr Smith pledged $90,000 to provide the state of the art camera network for Yarra Glen in the lead up to the last federal election.
He said he was thrilled that the cameras are now up and running.
“Now that they have been switched on, they will prevent and deter a significant amount of crime,” he said.
He said they are the first of five networks with preparations underway for Woori Yallock and Monbulk.
Yarra Ranges Crime Prevention Officer, Leading Senior Constable Linda Hancock, has been working with the Yarra Glen community as part of the Yarra Ranges Safety Camera Network to get the best system available.
She told the Mail the cameras are situated to see the comings and goings around the town, but have a few extra investigate tools.
“They are state of the art cameras with software that has both facial recognition and vehicle recognition,” she said.
“If we want to know of say, a white commodore, that came into Yarra Glen between 1am and 2am on a particular night, we can search for that vehicle, we can go in and see the rego of the car, see the occupant … it’s very high tech.”
Yarra Police Sergeant Richard Coulson also welcomed the additional policing technology saying it was the most advanced he had seen.
“It will undoubtedly be a big investigative tool,” he said.
The project has the support of the Yarra Glen Chamber of Commerce which has been actively working towards providing security for local businesses and the community that the cameras have the potential to effect.
“We’re fully supportive of the initiative,” president Rod Thomas said.
Local businessman Terry Campbell who runs Campbell Floats and the Yarra Glen Café on Bell Street, was able to cite two recent incidents, one where a car was stolen and another where a person had money stolen from a purse left in a car, and said he is supportive of the cameras.
It could be seen as a “bit big brotherish” but if it’s going to stop this type of thing, and stop people from breaking into cafes and shops, it’s a good thing,” he told the Mail.
“It’s good if they can follow it up, but it’s about deterring people, as well as catching them.”
On that point, Mr Campbell said he would like to see signs letting would-be criminals know that they are being watched.
LSC Hancock said signage was part of the discussion.
“We’ve found that signs below every camera hasn’t worked in other places but we wondered whether a couple of signs with ‘Welcome to Yarra Glen – CCTV operates in this town’ might be something to consider,” she said.
“If the community want it – and the community are driving this project; if that’s what businesses are telling us, we will have some funds to do that.”