Transit cameras constantly on patrol

By Lincoln Tan

At 4.30 on a dark winter's morning on Esmonde Rd in Takapuna, Peter Nelson thought he could commit a minor traffic offence and not get caught.

But about 15km down the motorway, Mr Nelson, 51, was stopped by a policeman.

That was when he discovered he'd had been caught - on camera - removing a traffic cone to avoid having to take a detour.

"My thought was hey, Big Brother's watching," he said.

"I thought cameras were only meant to catch speeding and traffic light offenders.

"Never did I think they were meant to watch our every other move as well."

For his offence of "interfering with a traffic control device", Mr Nelson, an officer at New Zealand Post's international mail branch at the airport, was fined $154.

Now, he wants to warn others that "no one is out of sight of the traffic cops - not even in the dark of night".

Waitemata Police communications manager Kevin Loughlin said the cameras were operated by Transit, which worked closely with the police in traffic management.

"The cameras are meant to keep traffic flowing smoothly, and that includes keeping watch on anyone breaking the law at whatever time of the day," he said.

But cameras are now being more widely used to help police in their efforts to fight crime.

More than 50 cameras have been installed throughout Auckland's downtown area.

They are monitored by non-sworn staff at the Downtown police station on dozens of screens.

The images are kept for 28 days, unless needed for evidential purposes.

A police spokesman said the police were governed by certain regulations which meant they couldn't spy on members of the public.

- NZ Herald

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