Call for north end cameras

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
A Dunedin city councillor is calling for video surveillance of the student quarter as a way of preventing out-of-control vandalism.

The call for surveillance from Cr Lee Vandervis was not welcomed by north end residents and students spoken to yesterday, who said such a move would be an invasion of privacy.

They said disorder in the student quarter was not as bad as made out.

Cr Vandervis said video surveillance in the Octagon worked well and there was no reason why it could not be successfully employed in North Dunedin.''

I believe we need to have some cameras up and we need to have a few prosecutions.''

Having one on Leith St would have saved us about $1 million in damaged roads, just with the holes burnt in them in the last couple of years.''

Most students would welcome the resulting improvement in behaviour, as it was only ''a small percentage of vandals'' who gave students a bad name, he said.

Having cameras would make it easier for couch-burners and other vandals to be prosecuted.''

What they need to do is catch this very small number of people - and as I said they are not all students - who are taking advantage basically of a north-end 'do-anything-you-like-zone'.''

Ruby Sycamore-Smith
Ruby Sycamore-Smith
Police, the University of Otago and the council should be involved in a push for cameras, he believed.''

If you look at the costs to city council every year of holes burnt in Leith St, Hyde St, Dundas St ... some years it's been $600,000.''

I think it would be a very worthwhile investment, especially since video camera technology has become very cheap now.''

He praised the university's efforts to improve behaviour, but believed the situation was still out of control.''

How many couch fires have we had in the last month? It's ridiculous,'' he said.

Students the Otago Daily Times spoke to were not pleased with the idea.

Hyde St resident Tom Norman (21) said such a move would be ''over the top'' and student behaviour was not as bad as made out.

Maddy Walker (21), who lived in the student quarter last year but now lives in Bath St, said it would be an invasion of privacy.''

We've earned the right to live away from home and live by ourselves and do what we want and I don't think we should be baby-sat or monitored,'' Ms Walker said.

Students ''should be able to be stupid on the weekend'' and the situation had improved from previous years, she said.

If authorities cracked down too hard on the student area they risked making Dunedin less desirable for students from outside the city.

Dunedin Clutha Waitaki area prevention manager Inspector Mel Aitken issued a statement saying: ''If such a proposal was to be put forward it would need to be analysed closely in terms of crime rates and the value it would add.''

Otago University Students' Association president Ruby Sycamore-Smith said the installation of cameras would be ''discriminatory'' against students.

OUSA would fight it if the idea was taken any further, especially if students felt strongly on the issue, she said.

The university did not respond to questions yesterday.

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