Senior Sergeant Shane Miles, of Nelson, with the CCTV camera monitors that are used by police and volunteers from the Nelson Community Patrol to keep an eye on the city. Photo: Andrew Board.

Big Brother is watching


Every step you take, every move you make, 32 cameras will be watching you.

Two years ago Nelson City Council upgraded the CCTV cameras that watch every inch of  Nelson’s CBD and the man in charge of them, senior sergeant Shane Miles, says they’re priceless.

The cameras record the central business district of Nelson 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The footage is recorded and stored for a period of time before being deleted. Shane says the cameras provide three main functions: a deterrent for offenders, the ability to watch the entire city at once when there are big events on and gathering evidence if there’s been a crime committed. “It’s a really, really valuable tool and it saves so much time from a police point of view. We don’t have to have police on every corner.”

He says there’s been no privacy concerns about the cameras as it’s standard practice world-wide. “Overall, most people want to be safe. If nothing has happened it just gets deleted, we don’t go back through it to see who’s had coffee with who.”

The cameras are monitored by volunteers from the Nelson Community Patrol every Friday and Saturday night and during large events, like the arts festival’s Masked Parade.

The cameras were used recently after the Brook Valley Store was robbed. Police were able to locate a suspect on the cameras and see him walking around the CBD. From that footage, he was identified and interviewed by police, says Shane. “And as it turned out, we were able to rule them out as the offender. So it works both ways.”

Since the upgrade in September 2012, Shane says the quality is now much better and they’re able to use it in court cases as well.

He says the network is likely to be expanded into the Victory area in the near future.