Focus on school vandals

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Focus on school vandals

By Matt Dunn 

KORUMBURRA Primary School is ready to install closed circuit TV cameras to stem a rising tide of vandalism attacks.
The technology is already in place at Korumburra Secondary College.
“We’ve had a few incidents lately of kids in the school ground. While I’m of the opinion that the school is there for everyone to use, as long as they use the school wisely, we’re considering installing CCTV cameras,” Korumburra PS principal Bill Jeffs said.
“It’s not so much that I want to catch the people, but I want them to understand that if they do the wrong thing we’ll know who it is.”
Korumburra Secondary College principal Lynne Hardy said her school had several cameras and spent another $5000 on the technology after an attack during the Christmas school holidays.
The attack and the upgrading gouged a total of $10,000 out of the school’s educational budget for 2009.
“I have 500 students here, which means I have a bigger budget than other schools. With a bigger budget you can buy more things. If I was at Wonthaggi I’d have a bigger budget again and I’d have the cameras in every single corridor,” Ms Hardy said.
Ms Hardy was loath to reveal how many cameras were in operation at the school but said they were “inside and out”.
“It’s a huge expense to a school. It’s huge. We shouldn’t have to do it, but unfortunately there are some people around who do damage things,” she said.
“We had some damage at the start of the year and it was expensive. We’ve had to pay many, many thousands of dollars to put cameras in. It’s deplorable that we have to waste money dedicated toward the education of our children.
“There aren’t many secondary colleges now that don’t have cameras for the insurance of their school. If we had more money, we’d have more cameras so we don’t have to have these incidents. They are a deterrent.”
Ms Hardy said it was unfortunate but “crime has increased in our society”.
“As a form of insurance we’ve chosen to spend some of our money allocated for education on cameras to protect our students and our property. However, it is not an easy decision to make,” she said.
Property damage crimes in the region rose by 21 per cent on the previous 12 months, according to police figures.
Chief of the Bass Coast South Gippsland Police Service Area Inspector Brian Curley acknowledged that a rise in vandalism was “an issue and we are concerned.
“Property damage is one of our current focuses, as it was a huge problem last financial year,” he said.
“We had some analysis done for the whole Gippsland area and we tried to drill it down to locations and other categories. It was a huge spike last year and has been trending up over the last few years.
“CCTV is a deterrent once people know it is there and we have had some success identifying people. Our reported crime data doesn’t reflect the extent of the problem, we are aware of that.”
In many respects, vandalism, in and out of schools, is a problem that goes largely unreported.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education Gippsland said there was no way to estimate the extent of the problem, as most school vandalism attacks were not reported to the department.
Many principals contacted by The Star were loath to speak about the issue.
Leongatha Primary School acting principal Grant Kuhne had also entertained the idea of installing the cameras, but was concerned they would only be smashed by the vandals.
It was difficult to estimate the cost of attacks, Mr Kuhne said, but “it adds up, it does add up”.
He described the problem as “quietly disheartening”.
But the attacks abated after some of the perpetrators were caught. The detective work did not take much digging.
“They left their names in paint,” Mr Kuhne explained.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=112

Posted by SiteAdmin on Nov 17 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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