CCTV. WILL WE BE SAFER?
It was a truly extraordinary sight on Sunday as some 30,000 people walked in silence in Brunswick, Melbourne, on past the bridal shop where the ABC’s Jill Meagher was last seen alive on CCTV footage.
The words of gratitude from Ms Meagher’s mother, Edith McKeon to the crowd and to the owners of the bridal shop brought more than a few tears to my eyes, and no doubt yours.
Jill Meagher’s mother, Edith McKeon outside the Brunswick store where CCTV footage captured Jill’s last movements.
“Just thank you, simply thank you. I hope they put more cameras in here to keep people safe,” Edith McKeon said through her grief at the rape and murder of her young daughter.
There is no doubt that the bridal shop’s CCTV camera which captured the last image of Jill Meagher alive, speaking to a man who is alleged to be her killer, was a turning point in the police investigation which ultimately led to an arrest and to Jill Meagher’s body.
If there is a conviction, it could be argued that people may be safer in the future as a result of the CCTV camera having captured that image.
But is having more surveillance in public spaces too big a price to pay for our safety? And will it even increase our safety?
There are already thousands of council and state government installed CCTV cameras in cities and towns across Australia watching people in public places, keeping check on anti social behaviour.
In the UK, there are near to 5 million cameras in public spaces and on private premises. Britons have by and large accepted the cameras as part of their daily lives on the basis, often argued by governments wanting them installed that “if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.”
The Victorian Premier Ted Ballieau also likes that logic. He’s ordered an audit of CCTV cameras throughout Melbourne city centre and suburbs to make sure that dangerous spots especially near public transport hubs and nightclubs are covered.
In opposition Mr Bailleau pledged a mass roll out of the cameras both in private businesses and in council monitored areas. Presumably in government, other matters took precedence. In any event, in the wake of Jill Meagher’s tragic death, the Victorian government is now talking about committing $3 million to local councils to get the roll out moving. And, says the Premier the public have embraced the idea.
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