Cops put eyes everywhere as CCTV rolled out

GOOD HELP: Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and Ipswich Superintendent Mark Kelly mark the 20th anniversary of the Safe City program.
GOOD HELP: Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and Ipswich Superintendent Mark Kelly mark the 20th anniversary of the Safe City program. Kate Czerny

CIVIL libertarians were suspicious and segments of the citizenry a tad sceptical, but Ipswich City Council was adamant that something needed to be done to deter the spooks lurking in the CBD.

It may be hard for long-term residents to believe that it has been 20 years since council undertook a bold move to place the city under surveillance.

Two-hundred-and-fifty tiny cameras looking down on the streets, footpaths and alleyways of Ipswich, Rosewood, Goodna and Redbank Plains - all monitored from a tiny dark room full of television screens - in the name of keeping the majority of law-abiding citizens safe.

Two decades on, the intricate system of cameras and monitors has been tuned not only to help police identify those who have committed offences, but also to throw a wet blanket on potential trouble makers before they've had the chance to harm anyone or anything.

Perhaps the biggest champion of the Safe City network over the last decade, Mayor Paul Pisasale, said the facts spoke for themselves.

"(There has been) a consistent reduction in incidents of crime by 70 per cent. The cameras are credited with delivering a 49% reduction in drug, alcohol and related substance abuse in Ipswich Central," Cr Pisasale said.

The cameras have changed the way police do their job and, according to Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, the changes have been for the better.

Mr Stewart was a special guest at the 20th anniversary celebration for the security camera network, held at the Ipswich Art Gallery on Wednesday night.

"I truly think that Ipswich has set a benchmark for other cities to follow," Mr Stewart said.

"The huge number of interventions has come about because we've had early notice.

"What Safe City demonstrates time and time again, is that police don't do it all by themselves, it's only through these wonderful partnerships that we actually can get our collective job done, to ensure the safety and security of the community."

Mr Stewart and Cr Pisasale signed a recommitment to the original Memorandum of Agreement to mark 20 years of Safe City.

Safe City started in 1994, however the original agreement was signed in 1998.

Topics:  cctv policing safe city cameras

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