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More CCTV cameras put up in Chch

Published: 6:43PM Thursday May 21, 2009 Source: ONE News

Big brother just got a little bit bigger after 25 new crime prevention cameras were switched on in Christchurch city.

Police say the extra CCTV cameras have almost tripled the coverage of the existing cameras.

The cameras are located within the central part of the city. They were bought by the City Council and will be monitored by the Christchurch police.

The mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, says safety is everything when it comes to Christchurch.

"Making Christchurch the safest city in New Zealand has always been a top priority for this Council. Early in the term we adopted a zero tolerance for violence and have been proactive in reducing crime and violence in the city.

"During the day, the cameras are used by staff to locate suspicious or criminal activity in the central city, missing persons, breaches of bail and warrants to arrest."

The increased surveillance that is sure to follow is aimed at lowering Christchurch's crime rate.

Canterbury Police District Commander Superintendent Dave Cliff says with the three-fold increase in the number of cameras, police would expect the cameras to play a more significant role in assisting them in reducing central city crime and violence.

"What this adds is a huge benefit to police of high quality footage of areas that are of public concern in terms of safety that we monitor on a 24/7 basis," says Cliff.

In 2008, the existing 13 cameras helped police with almost 80 arrests, to locate 27 missing people, seven witnesses to a homicide and to assist in identifying and locating the suspect for the stabbing of a tourist.

They've also had their share of celebrity sightings over the years, like an under the weather Tana Umaga.

At night the cameras are monitored by a team of volunteers who provide police on the beat with information on incidents of suspicious activity, fighting, disorder, assault, intoxicated persons, drugs, intentional damage, graffiti and offensive behaviour.

The new camera are so high definition they can zoom in and even see what's in a sandwich. That level of scrutiny comes at a cost with the council spending $1 million for the new installations.

But due to their exceptional quality in the footage and it being state of the art, the cost does not worry the District Commander.

"For Police, the prime focus of using the cameras is to increase public safety. We continually assess the location of the cameras to ensure they are located where we can best monitor social movement in the central city," says Cliff.

So next time you're out in central Christchurch you can bet, they'll be watching.