Liability Concerns over Municipal Surveillance

THERE are fears the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder's planned surveillance cameras could lead to litigation claims against the city.

City councillor Wayne Johnson has echoed a security firm's concerns the council could be held liable for incidents its cameras recorded but were not responded to.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor Ron Yuryevich has hosed down the concerns but Cr Johnson said the council had to be cautious and should seek legal advice on the issue.

"What's our liability?" Cr Johnson said.

"I think ratepayers have a right to know."

He said he would raise the matter with Mr Yuryevich.

Goldfields Commercial Security director Eddie Meyers, who plans to bid for the installation of the cameras, is also worried about the system because the cameras will not be monitored 24 hours a day.

Mr Meyers questioned whether council had made the cameras' purpose clear to ratepayers.

He said if someone was assaulted on the street and the incident was picked up on closed circuit television and no one came to their aid, the victim's family could hold the city responsible.

Mr Yuryevich told the Kalgoorlie Miner there was no obligation for someone to be sitting all day monitoring the camera footage.

He said the possibility that council could be held liable was ridiculous.

"That's saying we are responsible for every person's welfare as they walk down Hannan and Burt Streets," Mr Yuryevich said.

"I don't think it would increase council's liability risk, there is no obligation for us to follow every move people make on the street."

Western Australian Local Government Association President Bill Mitchell said it was drawing a long bow to hold the council responsible for incidents filmed by surveillance cameras.

He said there had been no liability risk for metropolitan councils who had installed the devices.

But Mr Meyers said ratepayers have a right to expect the cameras they were funding would protect them.

He said in Northbridge, the footage was constantly monitored by a private security firm then police were called to hot spots when trouble broke out.

Such a system would cost the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder an extra $500,000 a year.

Mr Yuryevich said the cameras acted only as an additional security measure and was in no way replacing police on the beat.

The council allocated $190,000 in this year's Budget for surveillance cameras in Hannan and Burt Streets.

Tenders for their installation close within a fortnight.

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