By Bonny Burrows
Pakenham’s Bourke Park became a lot safer in 2017.
After years of community protest, blanket-coverage surveillance was installed at the crime hotspot, with CCTV footage streaming direct to Pakenham Police Station.
Installation of the surveillance began in June as part of a project aimed at deterring crime and increasing a public sense of safety.
For years the park, located along Station Street and Railway Avenue, Pakenham, had been focus of many community and police 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 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.
However, a 2016 feasibility study determined that due to a lack of “natural surveillance” cameras were still needed.
The cameras, along with an additional 13 lights and landscaping and maintenance work, were funded by the State Government in December 2016 and works began the next year.
Footage started streaming direct the police station in November 2017, much to the relief of local residents who had previously avoided the park out of safety fears.