News | 5 May 2022

City safety: Through the lens of CCTV

More than one hundred CCTV cameras and a dedicated team are helping to make our city a safer place.

CCTV camera on a pole.

Wellington City Council Team Leader for City Safety, Jonelle du Pont, says when you say the word CCTV (which stands for Closed Circuit Television), it’s often met with mixed opinions. Some people believe cameras are kept on the streets to watch your every move.

However, while cameras can be used as prosecution tools, they allow us to collect data, understand trends in the city and support other partners and agencies in harm reduction and crime prevention.

The CCTV base also connects to the other capable guardians of the city including our own Hāpai Ake Team (Local Hosts), the NZ Police and community patrols in the central city.

Our CCTV network is also a key piece in the puzzle for the Pōneke Promise – our joint commitment to improving safety in the central city.

The City Safety CCTV Team has access to 120 cameras. There are also around 70 traffic cameras and 600 security cameras that are managed by other teams. The City Safety CCTV Team work on different shifts to cover all hours of the day.

Man sitting at a desk looking at a wall of screens with CCTV footage.

“It’s what we do with the information that counts. It’s the people we work with every day that matter,” Jonelle says.

The footage from CCTV is only shared with credited agencies, such as emergency services. Footage isn’t passed on to the general public due to privacy reasons.

“Everything is data based – we have dashboards full of it. We receive information from Hāpai Ake, Police and Wellington Free Ambulance (WFA). We don’t have cameras in every location in Wellington, but we are constantly evaluating our data to see where we can improve, where we are losing sight of people, and where things are happening.”

Reducing harm through strong partnerships

Every year a small budget is used to install new CCTV cameras around the capital. Lots of data and research goes into selecting these new locations.

With regular meetings, constant communication, and a reliable team monitoring the cameras – these community partnerships have grown stronger over the years, saving time and resources.

The City Safety CCTV Team also assists the Outreach Team at DCM, an organisation supported by Wellington City Council, to help them locate rough sleepers who may need mental health support or medical assistance.

A yellow CCTV camera sign with writing that says 'Cameras operating. Crime prevention and safety cameras are operating in this area.'

They also work closely with Police, alerting them to fights or violent behaviour, and helping them arrive on the scene within minutes.

And if someone is injured on the street, the WFA team can monitor the cameras to keep an eye on that person until paramedics arrive, as well as ensuring their team is safe on the ground.

Jonelle says within the City Safety CCTV Team, each operator cares strongly about reducing harm in the community, whether it be helping to reduce instances of alcohol being purchased for minors or vandalism.

A new centralised, more collaborative approach

Until recently, Pōneke’s CCTV cameras were monitored in the Wellington Central Police Station, but now they have all been brought under one roof into Wellington City Council’s CCTV Control Room.

“Moving in-house gave us more control of how we work and the potential to expand and work across our business units including with our Traffic and Security teams and accessing their networks for a wider reach,” says Jonelle.

Woman sitting on a chair in front of a wall of screens showing CCTV footage.

“Police can come in and sit with us if there's an operation going on, we can call in partners and agencies while still being able to monitor our systems. It’s allowed us to have more coordination amongst our teams.”

Outside of the control room, Police also has access to the cameras through two police stations, as does the Council’s Security Team.

“It's a robust approach to how they work – if the City Safety Team needs support then there is always someone who will be there to help,” Jonelle says.

“At the end of the day, a camera is just a camera, it’s all about community, trust and the partnerships behind it.”

The City Safety CCTV Team is monitoring the cameras 24/7 but they still can’t be everywhere at once. If you think something seems a bit off in a particular area of the city, you can alert the team by logging a request via the FIXiT App. If you witness a crime, it's important to report it directly to Police (call 111 for emergencies and 105 for non-emergencies).

To read more about the Pōneke Promise and other safety initiatives across the city visit the website.