Police plan to map home surveillance cameras raises privacy concerns


A regional police service in New South Wales has started recording the locations of home surveillance cameras to help tackle crime, raising concerns about people’s privacy.

More than 100 Bathurst residents have registered their CCTV cameras with the Chifley Police District.

The police department does not have access to live footage from the cameras, but the purpose of the program is to create a map of where they are.

Chief Detective Inspector Bruce Grassick said it would speed up the crime-solving process.

“CCTV has proven to be critical in being able to solve crimes and get that information to a court and allow the court to make judgments in relation to that particular information,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work when we’re walking the streets knocking on doors, identifying where the CCTV is.

While the use of CCTV footage is common practice in police investigations, the District of Chifley is said to be the first to create a home camera database.

CCTV used to search for Charlise

The use of CCTV footage has been a vital part of the investigation into the murder of nine-year-old Charlise Mutten.

NSW Police used CCTV and GPS data to track Justin Stein, 31, who was charged with her murder.

Earlier this week, police released footage of a red Holden Colorado driving through central Sydney and around the Colo area.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows for volume.

NSW Police release CCTV to help Charlise Mutten investigation

The footage eventually led to the discovery of Charlise’s body on the banks of the Colo River.

Chief Inspector Grassick said the investigation showed how important CCTV footage was.

“In this particular case, you see the movement of the vehicle at a gas station,” he said.

Privacy issues

Director of the Australia Institute‘s Center for Responsible Technology, Peter Lewis, said the program had a number of troubling aspects.

A middle-aged man wearing a light-colored shirt and glasses.
Peter Lewis says there are better ways for police to solve crimes.(Provided: Australian Institute Center for Responsible Technology)

“It’s a real blurring of public safety measures into the private realm under the auspices of public safety,” Lewis said.

“It’s fine to say, ‘We’ll only use it to fight crime’ – but that’s a broad enough parameter to determine how they may choose to access private information.

But Chief Inspector Grassick said there should be no concern about breaches of resident confidentiality and privacy.

“This is the highest confidentiality we have – it will only be kept on a secure police database which no one will have access to except a select number of police officers.


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