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Surveillance cameras installed in Polson Park

One of 28 recently installed CCTV cameras at Polson Park.
February 01, 2019 - 5:00 PM

VERNON - The City of Vernon has installed surveillance cameras in Polson Park.

The City's former council made the decision to install the cameras in March 2018, although due to delays the cameras have only recently gone up. In total 28 cameras have been installed around the park, 15 in the parkade, 11 around Polson Park and two outside the park's washrooms.

City of Vernon communications officer Nick Nilsen said in an email the cameras were not yet operational and would remain inactive until a privacy impact assessment is conducted and approved by city staff. Nilsen said the assessment would confirm the cameras met all the relevant provincial legislation.

Polson Park has been the scene of several incidents in recent years, a stabbing took place in February 2018 and a shooting in 2017.

B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association executive director Sara Neuert said there's no evidence the installation of surveillance cameras reduce crime.

"It's not really a deterrent, people know where the cameras are, if they're going to do a crime they're going to do a crime. It's not as much of a deterrent as the city might think," said Neuert.

She also questioned what evidence the City has for installing the cameras.

"It's not enough for them to say it's going to reduce crime. What are the facts you have that it's going to reduce crime?"

And Neuert dismisses the notion that if you are not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.

"It's about your right to go into a park and not feel like your being watched... is that where our society is going? Where we are going to be constantly monitored wherever we go."

Neuert said is also sets a dangerous precedent that it's OK to install more cameras in the future.

Nilsen said that once the cameras are operational they will record but will not be monitored in real time.

"If an incident occurs, the footage will be reviewed to determine if the cameras recorded anything of use to police," he said.

In March 2018, when the City approved the funding for the cameras, B.C.’s Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Drew McArthur was critical of the city's move stating it was not proven that surveillance cameras reduced crime and he was worried that they eroded the public’s right to privacy.

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming did not respond to a request for an interview.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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