Big-picture rural security camera project gets national recognition

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18/04/2019 12:00:00 p.m.

18 April 2019

The Whanganui Rural Community Board has won the Yvonne Palmer Leadership Trophy at this year’s New Zealand Community Boards Conference held in New Plymouth on 11-13 April 2019.

The Board won the trophy for its leadership in rural crime prevention with a strategy to fund and install security cameras throughout Whanganui District’s rural roading network.

The Yvonne Palmer Leadership Trophy is part of the Community Boards Executive Committee Best Practice Awards that recognise excellence in the implementation of projects and initiatives in local governance.

Board Chair David “Tex” Matthews described the trophy success as not only a “feather in the cap” for the Board but also a victory for Whanganui’s entire rural community.

“It’s an honour to be recognised at the Community Boards Conference and this award is the result of a real team effort. There’s been a lot of support shown from Whanganui’s rural community – both financially and in terms of labour to install cameras, for example – and several companies have also dug deep into their own pockets to help, for which the Board is very grateful.

“The other community projects presented at the conference were impressive, so it’s great to be considered in the same company. I was approached at the conference several times by community board members about our security camera strategy so I feel our work has had a very positive influence on other boards around New Zealand,” Mr Matthews said.

The Board’s rural crime prevention strategy was formed in 2018 after several rural property owners in the district installed private security cameras in an attempt to prevent stock and machinery thefts.

With rural security and safety as its goal, the Board teamed up with the New Zealand Police to identify Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras as the most effective tool in reducing rural crime. The police also provided surveillance advice on the district’s security weak spots.

To date the Board has made grants totalling $6500 to 11 applicants for camera maintenance and power use. The Board is also working with respective community groups to develop a policy governing access to video footage.

Since the installation of the cameras police have used them on numerous occasions, accessing footage to gather evidence that has ultimately led to the conviction of rural offenders. The continued presence of ANPR cameras in several rural areas has also resulted in a reduction of reported offences.

The district’s Rural Community Constable, Keith Butters, acknowledged support from businesses such as beekeeping and logging companies as well as the wider Whanganui rural community, and said recognition for the Board’s efforts was “totally justified”.

“Together we are combating rural crime and I congratulate the Board on their innovative thinking. A large part of my role is crime prevention so a real advantage of the cameras is also their deterrent nature – if there’s no crime then we don’t have a victim,” Constable Butters said.

The Whanganui Rural Community Board has been a previous winner in the Community Boards Executive Committee Best Practice Awards. It won the Supreme Award in 2013 for its work in rural broadband extension throughout the Whanganui District.

Page reviewed: 18 Apr 2019 12:00pm