24 May 2019

Calls for Government to install school CCTV cameras to combat vandalism

| Lachlan Roberts
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In just the first three months of 2019, 29 vandalism incidents were reported to the Education Directorate. File photo.

The ACT Government is being called upon to install CCTV cameras in public schools to combat the spree of school vandalism incidents across the territory.

In just the first three months of 2019, 29 vandalism incidents were reported to the Education Directorate, which is more than a third of the total recorded last year. In the past four years, Government figures show vandalism in public schools has cost more than $1 million to clean up.

On 20 January, police responded to reports of property damage at Curtin Primary School where they found a number of windows had been broken.

A few days before, unknown offenders broke into Gold Creek Primary School and used a tractor to damage the artificial turf field, perimeter fence panels and large bags of rubber compound.

Police also revealed they responded to three different incidents of property damage at Harrison School between 16 January and 21 January. On 11 May, a school took to social media to help track down three people who smashed windows and glass doors at St John Paul II College in Nicholls

Last Saturday, at least a dozen windows were smashed and classrooms suffered water damage at Lyneham High School, forcing year 10 students and staff to relocate to Dickson College for the week.

Last year, the Education Directorate said it would consider a small trial of portable CCTV cameras, installed and operated by ACT Policing but no action has been taken as far. The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association said it is continuing to advocate for a trial of the technology as an alternative to fencing or as an additional security measure.

The trial would involve the after-hours monitoring of school grounds but a Council spokesperson could not say what those hours would be or which schools had requested the trial.

The ACT P&C Council spokesperson said it was very disappointed to see the damage occurring to their schools.

“It has not escaped our notice either that while there was CCTV footage of the vandalism at St John Paul College, no such footage was available for the attacks at Lyneham,” the spokesperson said.

“We understand that the Directorate has been investigating the feasibility of CCTV as an effective protective measure and we have a meeting planned with them in the first week of June to hear of progress on this front.

“We have continued letting the Directorate know installing CCTV at public schools that request cameras, where footage is only taken out of school hours and that it can only be accessed by police when an incident has occurred, is our preferred course of action.”

An Education Directorate spokesperson said the safety and security of Canberra public schools is always a priority and the Directorate is looking at a whole range of security measures that might contribute to the school being a safe place.

“Unfortunately, despite a downward trend in recent years, vandalism remains a reality the government and schools need to manage,” the spokesperson said.

“The Education Directorate works closely with schools and their community to look at a whole range of security measures that might contribute to the school being a safe place but also to protect government assets. We also work closely with ACT Policing when these incidents occur.

“The ACT Government encourages all Canberrans to view their local public schools as community assets to be proud of and, as such, not seek to vandalise or damage these facilities in any way.”

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