By Bonny Burrows
The long-awaited installation of blanket-coverage surveillance is underway at Pakenham crime hotspot Bourke Park in a bid to increase public safety.
Cardinia Shire Council is in the process of equipping the popular park with CCTV surveillance cameras and an additional 13 lights, funded by a 2016 State Government Public Safety Infrastructure grant.
The works, which also include landscaping to improve passive surveillance and visibility from the road, follow extensive lobbying over the years by council and community members.
For years the park, located along Station Street and Railway Avenue, Pakenham, had been the focus of many community concerns, due to its “high degree of anti-social and criminal behaviour” such as drug and alcohol use, vandalism and assault at the site and the nearby Pakenham train station.
The concerns are shared with Pakenham police, which has also identified the site as a “high risk community location” for crime.
The council responded to these concerns in 2014 with a “rejuvenation project” featuring infrastructure and safety improvements including the installation of two playgrounds, barbecues, picnic settings and improved lighting, but security cameras were not part of the plan.
Cardinia Shire Council’s team leader of safe and inclusive communities David Lane told Star News the aim of the 2014 project was to “revitalise” the park and make it a “desirable destination” where people could enjoy themselves without being subject to anti-social or criminal behaviours.
Project evaluations, he said, showed improvements across a range of areas, however identified the need for “some additional works” and a 2016 feasibility study determined that due to a lack of “natural surveillance” cameras were needed.
“These limitations included a lack of natural surveillance due to there being few buildings in close proximity, the location of the bus stop, and the large lots of unused/undeveloped land; all of which fell outside of council’s level of influence to change,” Mr Lane said.
“Several methods of community consultation were employed to help gather evidence and support for the introduction of CCTV in Bourke Park, including a community survey, which demonstrated community support for the project.”
After a long wait for funding, the project is now full steam ahead, thanks to a grant by the State Government in December 2016.
According to the council, the installation of poles and wirings will commence in the coming weeks, followed by the cameras.
Once installed, footage will be sent directly to Pakenham police station for monitoring.
“It is expected that CCTV and these other recent projects will help to address community concerns and perceptions, and improve public safety in the park overall,” Mr Lane said.