Uni to install CCTV cameras next year

CCTV cameras will be installed in streets around the University of Otago early next year.

Announcing the move yesterday, the university said it would improve safety and was supported by more than half of student submissions. After consultation, the number of cameras would drop from 66 to 44, although coverage would be the same, as higher specification equipment would be used.

Coverage areas include Castle, Dundas, Albany and Hyde Sts. Cameras would be installed early next year.

Dunedin City Council consent would be required, but the university expected it to be non-notified. Costing $625,000, it is the first phase of a two-part planned installation. The second phase, which would cost the same amount again, would not be approved until the first phase was evaluated.

Selected comments from submissions released included a student’s concern about living in a "police state".

Some expressed concern about the university filming in public streets.

"The university’s role is a tertiary institute, not a security company," said one.

"I think the creeping surveillance of students in residential areas as opposed to study areas [is] dangerous," another said.

One submitter suggested the money would be better spent improving student life and culture.

"North Dunedin and the University of Otago are not the same thing. The university cannot just keep expanding into the city," said one.

However, of 98 student submissions, 57 supported the cameras, and 34 opposed. Seven submissions were neutral.

The plan was approved behind closed doors by the university council at its meeting in Wellington this week.

Chief operating officer Stephen Willis said the consultation was genuine.

"Many students are supportive of the use of CCTV for [safety] reasons if done right, but some students still expressed concerns that there isn’t enough evidence and that crime is already low.

"While crime is low, crime against students has been creeping up," Mr Willis said.

"The purpose of CCTV is not to monitor normal student behaviour and punish every minor infraction but to keep students safe by reducing crime against them and being able to catch offenders.

"If a student is burgled they’ll be able to get in touch with Campus Watch so that the footage can be used to track down their property and the perpetrator," Mr Willis said.

The university would continue working with students to address privacy concerns.



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