Byron Shire Council will consider options for federal government grants aimed at reducing street crime but mayor Simon Richardson has stopped short of advocating Council request funding to install controversial closed circuit TV in Byron Bay.
A new $40 million National Crime Prevention fund announced by the PM on Friday is funded by assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Fund and provides councils with a channel for funding for CCTV and other security infrastructure.
In February the federal government said there was no avenue to funding the much called-for cameras. Funding had also previously been denied by the state government.
Home affairs and justice minister Jason Clare said on Friday that the National Crime Prevention Fund will target crime hotspots, and will fund grants to local councils for security infrastructure like closed circuit television (CCTV) systems and lighting; and youth mentoring and outreach programs run by not for profit community organisations.
In an interview on ABC radio this morning he would look consider seeking funding for everything from looking at late night transport to assist people getting home to ‘developing a more secure taxi rank’ and ‘lighting for our parks and some of our darker spaces’.
He also mentioned that lighting and landscaping could help in parts of Mullumbimby but he did not mention the option of closed circuit TV.
Echonetdaily’s calls and emails to mayor Richardson for further comment were not returned by press time.
Byron Shire Cr Paul Spooner, who is also GM of the Byron Community Centre, right in the middle of the Jonson Street hotspot, agrees funding would be welcome and says CCTV should be a last resort.
‘I think we should really take a good look at this opportunity given the current revelations about Byron at night time,’ he said.
‘If there is lighting money in there, it’s an opportunity to get really creative. Let’s combine lighting solutions with creative sections of our community so we can create a safer community that looks fantastic. Lighting is a key aspect in being more welcoming,’ he added.
But CCTV is a lot more difficult, he said, adding ‘there are different views held in the community’ about its use.
‘We need to look at a suite of options. The problem that exists with CCTV is that we’re catching people after the event. We’re trying to stop this from happening in the first place.
‘I think that CCTV is one option to consider; however, I’m suggesting it’s not the solution. I’m yet to see any evidence that CCTV reduces alcohol related violence. CCTV has a role to play in ensuring convictions but as a community we are more interested in stopping this from happening rather than catching the bad much.
‘It’s a bit like locking the gate after the horse has bolted.’