Crime in Vancouver: CCTV vote hits council

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Vancouver City Council is expected to vote Wednesday on a controversial motion that would bring more surveillance cameras into public spaces.

The city appears to have been plagued by a spike in random attacks in recent months, but critics say the idea raises privacy concerns.

The motion was presented by the councillor. Melissa De Genova on Tuesday, but was adjourned the next day so the board could hear speakers.

De Genova argues that CCTV cameras have been used successfully in other jurisdictions to deter criminals and catch suspects.

“Hundreds of times a day the average person is caught on video surveillance in one way or another and once again we’re making sure we’re deterring violent crime with the right checks and balances, I don’t think let that be irrelevant,” De Genova said in his presentation to the board.

The Vancouver Police Department said it has seen an increase in random violent attacks in recent months, many of which were captured by cameras owned and operated by private companies. These images have helped lead to arrests in several cases.

Police have used mobile security units in the past when crime is rampant in a certain area, but the city currently only uses surveillance cameras during planned events or to assist first responders in emergencies.

De Genova says more cameras would save police time and resources.

However, counselors have concerns about privacy.

“How do you respond to the criticism that it just leads your big brother to stare at you, and that’s another invasion of privacy?” asked councilor Colleen Hardwick.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart also expressed concern about the price.

“It could cost tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars,” Stewart said.

The issue of jurisdiction was also a concern.

“Do you think police decisions are best made by the police or the council?” asked the adviser. Pete Fry at Tuesday’s meeting.

If approved, City staff will work with the VPD to locate areas where these cameras would be useful and will meet with the Privacy Commissioner to address any concerns.


With files from CTV Vancouver’s Ben Nesbit

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