ACT Public Safety Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Network Annual Report 2019-20

Minister’s forward

In accordance with the ACT Government’s Strategic Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Plan 2020-2022 (Plan) I am pleased to present the inaugural Annual Report for the ACT’s Public Safety CCTV Network for 2019-20.

CCTV remains a key part of the government’s efforts in the ACT to create safer public places, venues and events. CCTV utilisation data, collected over two years, in this report confirms the importance of CCTV in supporting the work of ACT Policing to deter and investigate crimes. The government’s investment of $475,000 in the ACT Budget 2018-19 has provided a significant boost to the capabilities of the Public Safety CCTV System whilst ensuring safeguards on privacy and human rights remain strong.

This Annual Report addresses strategic activity 14 in the Plan and provides even further transparency about the government’s use of the Public Safety CCTV Network. The government recognises the importance of providing the Canberra community with information about the Public Safety CCTV Network and how it is builds trust and confidence in this technology.

As described in this report, the government progressed a significant number of CCTV initiatives in 2019-20 to strengthen the capability of the Public Safety CCTV Network. This includes new camera installations, upgrades and the planning of measures to increase the efficiency of the network by centralising data recordings. These measures have had a tangible benefit on enhancing the safety and security of public areas across the ACT and better supporting ACT Policing to investigate crime.

I trust that this Annual Report is informative about how the ACT Government continues to use CCTV at the forefront of its effort to keep Canberran’s safe and lower crime. Further information about the Public Safety CCTV Network is available at justice.act.gov.au.

Mick Gentleman MLA

Minister for Police and Emergency Services

CCTV Utilisation

2019-20 saw a reduction of 17% on previous years in the number of occasions that ACT Policing copied footage from the Public Safety CCTV Network to support the investigation of crime. This is likely the result of COVID-19 health restrictions impacting on night-time activity in Canberra’s entertainment districts, most notably Civic.

In comparison, there has been a 168% increase in the occasions where ACT Policing dispatched a patrol to an incident or situation that was observed during periods of CCTV monitoring.  This increase was partially the result of a temporary change to the CCTV monitoring hours as described below.

CCTV Network Utilisation Report 2019-20

The standard arrangements for active monitoring of the Public Safety CCTV Network is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6:00pm until 6:00am. During April and May 2020, temporary changes to the CCTV monitoring were implemented to reflect the decline in visitation to Canberra’s City at night-time due to the COVID-19 health restrictions and the closure of food and entertainment venues. These temporary changes saw ACT Policing undertake day-time active monitoring of the Public Safety CCTV Network.

CCTV Governance

Use of CCTV in the ACT is overseen by the Security and Emergency Management Senior Officials Group (SEMSOG). The CCTV Working Group, reporting to SEMSOG, facilitates and monitors the progress of the government’s review of CCTV capability in the ACT, the development of consistent policy across government and enables the ACT to respond in an agile manner to evolving CCTV technology and capability. The CCTV Working Group is chaired by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate.

The CCTV Working Group met on three occasions during 2019-20. Agenda items discussed include :

  • Development of the CCTV policy;
  • Agency updates;
  • CCTV asset management and a whole of government register;
  • CCTV Strategic plan;
  • CCTV over CBRfree Wi-Fi;
  • Auditor-General’s CCTV Performance Audit;
  • CCTV network enhancements, including hosting of CCTV servers in secure Data Centres and combining servers for multi-agency usage.

CCTV Installations and Upgrades

The government progressed the following new CCTV installations in 2019-20:

  • Public Safety CCTV Network cameras in the City were upgraded with the latest generation digital, high-definition, pan-tilt-zoom CCTV cameras. These cameras replaced older model analogue camera and provide enhanced resolution, quality and performance and night.
  • A solar powered CCTV camera was installed on the Uriarra Road at Denman Prospect to ensure that all public roads leading to rural areas to the West and South of Canberra have CCTV installed to help ACT Policing investigate rural crimes and in particular the theft and burning of vehicles.
  • The Public Safety CCTV Network was expanded to include four cameras at Henry Rolland Park in Acton. The four cameras were installed to strengthen public safety at this popular public amenity and the security of valuable public assets that are installed at this location.
  • A total of three solar powered CCTV cameras were installed on a temporary two-month basis at sheltered bus stops located in Wanniassa, Narrabundah and Weston Creek to help deter and better support ACT Policing investigate vandalism against these bus stops.
  • Two solar powered CCTV units were installed on a temporary one-month basis on Lonsdale St in Braddon to enhance public safety during the Christmas and Summernats period.
  • Two solar powered CCTV units were installed at public carparks to the North and South of Mt Taylor to deter theft and vandalism against vehicles that was occurring at these locations.
  • Two solar powered CCTV units were installed at the National Rock Garden carpark to deter theft and vandalism against vehicles that was occurring at this location. Both of these cameras subsequently recorded footage of an alleged theft from a vehicle that was provided to ACT Policing for investigation.
  • One solar powered unit was installed on Parkwood Road in McGregor to support investigations into damage that was occurring to road infrastructure and garden beds at this location.
  • Two solar powered CCTV cameras were installed on a temporary  6-12month basis in Mitchell. This was a collaborative agreement with the Mitchell Traders Association, as a deterrent to vandalism against businesses within the area.

CCTV Removals or Decommissions

Two solar powered CCTV units were removed from Bunda St in the City and one was removed from the Griffith Shops as they were no longer required.

Significant CCTV Network Faults or Outages

No significant CCTV network faults or outages impacted on the CCTV network.

Complaints against the CCTV Network

No complaints against the CCTV Network were received by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate in 2019-20.

Outlook for 2020-21

2020-21 will see the government complete the upgrades to the Public Safety CCTV Network that were funded in 2018-19. The government will also continue to progress the strategic CCTV activities described in the Strategic Closed Circuit (CCTV) Plan 2020-2022. This includes:

  • Improving the efficiency of how the government stores CCTV information through a centralised network video recorder approach (Project Bluesky);
  • Expanding the footprint of the Public Safety CCTV Network to include Glebe Park;
  • Undertaking a review of CCTV monitoring hours that considers the lessons learned from the temporary change of hours;
  • Progressing a whole of government CCTV policy to replace the ACT Government Code of Practice for Closed Circuit Television Systems.