DESIRED RESULT: Mildura Mayor Simon Clemence, Victorian Minister for Housing and Planning, Richard Wynne and Mildura police Inspector John Nolan were all smiles following the completed installation of 17 CCTV cameras along Mildura’s Riverfront precinct, and Mildura’s CBD. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By VINNIE RODI
“IT would be an understatement to say that we would be stuffed without the CCTV (cameras) in Mildura’s CBD, and the riverfront area.”
It was a strong and compelling statement made by Mildura police Inspector John Nolan on Wednesday at a media event to mark the completed installation of 17 CCTV cameras along Mildura’s riverfront and CBD precincts.
In fact, the statement clearly outlined just how vital these cameras are to the safety and security of the Mildura community.
Insp. Nolan, one of a number of hard-working individuals from Mildura Rural City Council and Victoria Police respectively who have made the $262,500 project a reality, said that without the system being in place, numerous dangerous individuals would still be walking freely on Mildura’s streets.
“It (the cameras) is an absolutely critical element of our work,” he said. “The issue for me is that whereas in the past a lot of offences have gone undetected due to a lack of evidence, CCTV provides compelling evidence of what has occurred.
“I can tell you that in the past six to eight months there has been the most horrendous crimes detected through CCTV that has enabled us to prosecute people who I believe would have gone on to commit even worse crimes.”
The 17 CCTV cameras have been installed at Victoria Police-identified hotspots in the Mildura CBD and riverfront precinct as part of a joint Mildura Council and Victoria Police project.
Upgraded lighting along Eighth Street shopfront verandas has also been installed between Madden and Orange Avenues in a bid to improve visibility and public safety at night.
The project was funded through a $234,393 grant from the Victorian Government’s Community Crime Prevention Program, with footage from the CCTV network monitored by Victoria Police on a daily basis.
Minister for Planning and Housing, Richard Wynne, who was on hand to commemorate the completion of the program, particularly singled out the advocacy work of Insp. Nolan in making the project a reality.
“John penned a very detailed submission in support of the installation of these 17 CCTV cameras,” he said. “It acknowledged that these cameras will make a significant difference to community safety, but also to the detection of crime more generally.
“It also spoke about using the material captured in subsequent police investigations and court proceedings that may arise.”
Mildura Mayor Simon Clemence described the project as “truly amazing.”
“This project has been going since 2017, and came about following the work of Hands Up Mallee (HUM),” he said. “HUM surveyed some 4000 residents of Mildura… with community safety being at the top of the priority list.
“If the community has a priority to do with safety than so does Council, and so does the State Government.”
Cr Clemence said that the 17 cameras has been strategically placed at The Nowingi Place, along the riverfront and in Langtree Mall.
“These cameras are state-of-the-art, and outstanding in their effect,” he said. “The vision that you get is amazing… these 17 cameras go wirelessly back to the Mildura Police Station, and they are actively monitored during peak periods.”
Forty-five CCTV cameras have now been installed across Mildura, the riverfront precinct and Red Cliffs since 2017.
“We used to have lots of criminal damage in Red Cliffs prior to the installation of these cameras,” Cr Clemence said. “The day we installed these cameras, it just stopped – completely.”
Insp. Nolan also described the project as a remarkable achievement for all those involved.
“Mildura is an amazing place to live and work… but we do have an underbelly that gets commonly broadcast,” he said. “We currently have a family violence rate that is 165 percent above the State average, while our criminal incident rate is 68 percent above the State average.
“In the past 10 years our crimes against a person and public order offences have risen around 90 percent. That is a serious concern to us… and there was a lot of representations made before my time as to whether CCTV should be implemented in the CBD.
“Council took up that challenge, and you are witnessing today the culmination of a lot of work, and a lot of drive and passion.”
Insp. Nolan said the cameras would, and were already, making a big difference to police detecting, stopping and prosecuting those committing serious offences.
“These cameras allow us to remotely patrol this whole area… and that’s important, as in peak times nearly all of our police resources are tied up with other matters,” he said.
“It allows us to monitor the safety of our own police officers when they are dealing with violent offenders in these areas, and most importantly it allows us to detect behaviours that we know are going to escalate into violence…”
Insp. Nolan said that in the past six months alone, Mildura police had been able to draw upon 220 “evidentiary downloads” from the CCTV system.
“That number is escalating rapidly due to the quality and expanse of the system,” he said.