Leeton's CCTV program in jeopardy over privacy ruling

AS PRESSURE continues to mount on councils operating closed circuit television (CCTV) due to privacy concerns, Leeton Shire Council could be forced to abandon the 20 cameras it installed throughout the town last year.

Council put aside $30,000 for the project, which has seen 29 businesses accept subsidises to put CCTV in their businesses.

But after a decision by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal last week, which saw Shoalhaven City Council ordered to switch off its 18 CCTV cameras, it has left the future of the town's cameras in limbo.

"We are eagerly watching the outcome of this," Leeton Shire Council economic development, tourism and events manager Peter Kennedy, said.

Mr Kennedy is a keen supporter of the scheme, saying its function in protecting the business landscape of the town outweighed privacy concerns.

"The footage doesn't just get broadcast on the internet for all to see," he said.

"It is protected and governed by legislative guidelines."

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has asked for the ruling to be reviewed, which means Leeton's cameras will be protected until the outcome is known.

Manager of Pine Avenue menswear store Brad's, Matt Fraumeni, said the shop had taken up on the CCTV scheme and had about 11 cameras in-store.

"There is no doubt in my mind they work as a deterrent," Mr Fraumeni said.

"Everyone can see them and we have signs so everyone knows they are being filmed."

Mr Fraumeni said he has never received a complaint from an individual about being filmed while in the store or on the street.

"Most people accept CCTV is just part of the shopping experience anywhere you go."

Detective Inspector Paul Smith, who works out of the Griffith Local Area Command, has openly expressed his support for CCTV in the fight against crime.

"Of recent times CCTV has been of great assistance in identifying and prosecuting offenders," Detective Inspector Smith told The Area News in March.

"I would encourage both business and community to consider all security options that may reduce the chance of being a victim of crime."

These sentiments were echoed by member for Wagga Daryl Maguire, who threw his support behind CCTV yesterday.

"While there is a role for privacy laws, this decision flies in the face of the views of most law-abiding citizens."

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