Badly behaving people be warned - Foxton Beach will soon have an operating camera surveillance service as it joins forces with an established crime prevention unit based in Levin.
Video images from 12 security cameras located at designated hot spots at Foxton Beach will beam live to the hub of the Horowhenua Crime Prevention Camera Trust (HCPCT) unit based at Levin police station.
A Levin Crime Prevention Trust had been operating with police for years, but has officially changed its name to "Horowhenua" in recognition of the increasing district-wide approach.
HCPCT officially signed a contract with Palmerston North firm B&M Security managing director Daniel Trott this week for installation of the Foxton Beach cameras, expected to be fully operational within the next few weeks.
Already there were 17 operational cameras strategically positioned around Levin, in areas like the Levin Adventure Park, the Cenotaph, the post office, Te Takere, the skate park, and at designated areas on Oxford St, like automated teller machines.
Foxton Beach Progressive Association chairman Ted Melton, who worked jointly on the project with Paddy Doyle, said the new Foxton Beach cameras similarly be placed in popular areas and crime hot spots with support from Horowhenua District Council.
Melton said in addition to a camera at the entrance to Foxton Beach township, one would be placed near the motor camp, and there would be cameras monitoring traffic driving along the beach, too.
He said the cameras would go some way to deter speeding and reckless driving, which had long been a problem for the town.
Levin Police Sergeant Jeffrey Lyver said camera surveillance was an increasingly important tool in policing, not only for collecting evidence that can lead to a conviction or obtaining an arrest, but also as a deterrent to crime.
Sergeant Lyver said primarily the cameras were a preventative measure, but were an invaluable investigative tool for anything from minor street disorders to murder investigations.
Camera surveillance and footage had led to arrests ranging from low-level offending to helping apprehend the perpetrators of serious crime, and had contributed to a decrease in offending in those areas.
"We've had some great catches over the years," he said.
Technology meant that if police wanted to check footage from a certain camera at a certain time, it could be instantly recalled, while it also had a registration plate recognition capability to red-flag any vehicles of interest.
All footage was stored for the maximum allowed period of 60 days.
HCPCT volunteer camera operators were in constant radio contact with police and could instantly respond to police requests for information for retrospective searches of camera footage.
It was a legislative requirement that signs had to be erected wherever there was a camera operating. However, that helped to create an awareness, too, that any illegal behaviour was being monitored and recorded, he said.
There was a signed Memorandum of Understanding between HCPCT and police that all data collected belonged to police. The trust also has an MOU with HDC.
HCPCT chairman Mel Douglas said police were not opposed to the idea of having more crime prevention cameras throughout the Horowhenua police district, in towns like Himatangi, Foxton, Ōtaki, Waitarere Beach and Shannon.
Meanwhile, Douglas said HCPCT said they were in urgent need of volunteers to join their ranks as currently there were only enough to monitor certain times of the week, and there was also a vacancy for a secretary.
In an ideal world, the cameras would be monitored around the clock.
"It can be extremely rewarding," he said.
Not all people would be eligible to join, though. All volunteers had to go through a training process and had to be police approved by passing a stringent police check.
Douglas said Levin's surveillance camera operation began with the first camera installed in 2004 in an effort to stem a rise in vandalism, assault and property damage.
A trust was established and with grants from HDC and further fundraising, it was able to purchase cameras and equipment.
Current HCPCT members were listed as Trevor Robinson, Dave McCutcheon, Mel Douglas, Jeffrey Lyver, Bob Thomas, Russell Overton, Dave Gray, Daniel Trott, Ted Melton, Bryan Shaw and HDC representative Todd Isaac.