Public has a role to play in keeping streets free of crime

SOMEONE is always watching.

That should be a message which rings loud and clear to people who intend on breaking the law in the digital age as today we report another instance where graffiti artists have been caught in images vandalising a V/Line train.

The expansion of CCTV equipment in built-up business areas has been consistent in recent years.

In Ballarat, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in cameras which now watch the moves of the public from dozens of vantage points.

The investment in CCTV has had a two-fold impact, helping to prevent crime but also to catch perpetrators.

While it’s not appropriate for those without training to suddenly take on the role of authorities, clearly there is also a role that members of the public can play in keeping our streets crime free.

The explosion of smartphone and tablet technology provides users with click-of-a-button access to cameras, video and audio recording. Another click and the world can see the result.

While more police on the beat is a common call from the public, it’s unrealistic to expect police to be everywhere at all times. Yet, in many cases, the public has become more active as the eyes and ears of safety. Despite this shift in action, as The Courier reports today, the actions of some criminals remain so brazen it defies belief. 

More importantly, there seems to be a lack of ability by authorities to tackle issues such as transport graffiti on their own terms.

The government’s plans to hire hundreds of Protective Service Officers, who have responsibility for improving safety on and around transport precincts, has been a failure thus far. PSOs are also limited in their powers. On both points, further action is required by the state government.

In the meantime, it is clear the community has a role to play in identifying problems or potential issues. 

Authorities should be embracing those who are active in this process while maintaining a focus on being more proactive in public safety initiatives.

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