Talks on CCTV coverage

The need for extra CCTV cameras to zoom in on North Dunedin trouble spots will be discussed, despite concerns about a ''surveillance society'', Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says.

Mr Cull said yesterday the idea might be impractical, given the likely ''massive'' cost of installing cameras in the area.

Despite that, he planned to raise it with University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic officials at the next meeting of the tertiary sector steering group.

He was not ready to support the idea without more advice from police and others, but CCTV cameras had proven to be ''pretty effective'' in the Octagon.

Mr Cull's comments came after two suspected arsons in two days in North Dunedin streets, including a Leith St flat set alight by a burning couch, and Monday's scenes of a glass-strewn Hyde St.

The trouble prompted Cr Lee Vandervis to raise the idea of extending video surveillance into North Dunedin, where he said trouble ''had been going on for far too long''.

''We need video surveillance. We need to stop this ... It is costing everybody, including the DCC, far too much.''

Cr Vandervis had also raised the idea last year, because of the high costs of repairing damage to streets and property caused by fires and other inappropriate behaviour.

''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,'' he said at the time.

The Otago University Students' Association vowed to fight the ''discriminatory'' idea at the time, and students spoken to were also opposed.

Mr Cull yesterday said the suspected arsons were an ''absolutely frightening phenomenon'' that needed to be addressed.

Despite that, a network of CCTV cameras in North Dunedin could raise wider concerns, beyond the cost involved.

''It raises the whole issue of a surveillance society when you have got a whole suburb - and the only suburb - covered like that.''

A network of 14 cameras was installed in the Octagon in 2010 at a cost of $200,000, of which ratepayers paid $150,000 and community organisations the rest.

There was talk of extending the network to other central city locations, including George and Princes Sts, but it had come to nothing.

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