A Bunbury city councillor claimed the city’s anti-social behaviour at night was as bad as in New York City, during a debate about Bunbury’s CCTV cameras.
Cr Ross Slater said the council had to fund the video monitoring because it prevented violence in the CBD streets which he considered on par with some of the world’s biggest cities.
“When you have cameras, it’s like a police presence,” he said.
A two-year State Government-funded trial of CCTV cameras in Bunbury has finished, prompting calls for the council to fund the cameras.
The council is expected to fund the cameras for another six months, at a cost of about $24,000, while seeking alternative funding.
Drivers from Bunbury Taxis expressed their concerns to the council, saying the removal of the cameras would put drivers at risk.
The taxi drivers said removing the CCTV would lead to more trouble at the taxi ranks and might deter some drivers from picking up passengers from the city centre.
“If the cameras were removed it would only be a matter of time before a driver was maimed or killed,” one driver said.
“People behave themselves because they know the cameras are there – without the cameras anything could happen.’’
A number of councillors expressed frustration that the State Government had ceased funding the CCTV and the council would have to pick up the tab.
Deputy Mayor Stephen Craddock said law and order was a State Government responsibility.
“What will happen next? Will we have to provide our own police officers?” he said.
Bunbury Chamber of Commerce and Industries chief executive Pay Philp said it was disappointing the State funding had ended because the cameras helped people feel safe in the city.
Bunbury Police officer in charge Phil Nation said the instillation of the cameras had led to a drop in anti- social behaviour but rejected claims Bunbury was as bad as New York for bad behaviour.
“With the removal of the cameras there is the risk of falling back into old habits and – whether it was right or not – Bunbury had a reputation for bad things happening when people went out in the city,” he said.
He said the cameras also helped police identify those who were “playing up in the city”.
City of Bunbury chief executive Andrew Brien said the council would explore all sources of funding for the cameras.
“The council may decide to fund the cameras in-house,” he said.