17 May, 2023
Community cries out for CCTV
CALLS for a street-wide CCTV network that police can remotely access and monitor have resurfaced after an assault in Mareeba’s main street was caught on a business’s personal camera system.
A savage assault of two men who came to the defence of another was caught on a Byrnes Street business’s CCTV camera which led to seven of the perpetrators being charged. Following the attack, locals and the Mareeba Chamber of Commerce have called for a public system to be re-installed in Mareeba’s main business sector.
Chamber president Joe Moro believes crime in Mareeba is out of hand and the re-installation of a widespread, public CCTV system is crucial for the safety of residents and businesses.
Police previously had access to a small CCTV network that was remotely linked to the local station however that system was discontinued around seven years ago.
“It has been a long request from businesses and the chamber to have a CCTV system installed like the one that was previously in Mareeba, either the same or better,” Mr Moro said.
“We have advocated to all levels of government for years however it is my understanding that funding is the issue and for whatever reason, Mareeba does not qualify. The community is crying out for CCTV, crime is escalating and it is urgent we have a new system installed to assist police.”
Mareeba Police Station Officer-in-Charge Senior Sergeant Derek Garner believes a CCTV network for the main street would be highly beneficial for officers to gather evidence of crimes, and would serve as a deterrent for potential offenders.
“If it was a system that we could monitor, then it would also assist us in identify arising issues that we might be able to nip in the bud before they eventuate,” he said.
The previous CCTV network was sponsored by Mareeba Shire and had cameras installed in areas like the old fire station (now Q.I.T.E) outside of the Anthill Hotel and at the skatepark.
“Those cameras were wirelessly linked back to the station and we were able to view the images in real-time and also if we needed to download imagery for evidence purposes, we could do that,” Snr Sgt Garner said.
The old system was installed after council secured grant funding in 2012, however it was then disabled and removed just a few short years later. Police have since had talks with council about the possible installation of a new system.
“We have had lengthy discussions with stakeholders, council mainly, about how CCTV could be utilised in the future but at this stage we have not come to any consensus,” Snr Sgt Garner said.
“The system was a handy tool for us and at the end of the day, it is a valuable asset in any community for that community’s safety.”
The original system was removed by council after “the equipment had become outdated and relocating it was not feasible,” however businesses are now able to install their own CCTV systems with the support of council.
“Council has introduced the Mareeba Community Safety Enhancement Program to expand the surveillance of public spaces, and this includes live monitoring of these spaces by the Mareeba Police Station,” Mayor Angela Toppin said.
“The program identifies hotspots in Mareeba and council has been engaging with business operators in the identified locations since the commencement of the program in 2018.
“Several businesses have received council support for expanding existing CCTV or lighting and the installation of new systems.”