Toilet security

Your average law-abiding citizen would find it disconcerting to walk into a public toilet and see a security camera inside the cubicle where you plan to do your private business.You don’t necessarily know where the camera is focused so some feeling of discomfort, perhaps even outrage, would be understandable.
That has been the reaction of some residents to the news that the Adelaide Hills Council has begun filming the inside and outside of its toilets at the Bridgewater oval, opposite the shopping strip at Aldgate and in Steamroller Park in Stirling.
But there is more to the story.
These three toilets have been the target of vandals and graffiti taggers for a long time.
Other toilets in the district have been hit but Bridgewater, Stirling and Aldgate have featured prominently in the Hills police reports in recent months.
The council was shelling out $1000 a week just to clean up graffiti in those three facilities – not to mention the thousands of dollars in damage done to wash basins, taps, toilets and signs.
Vandals and graffiti taggers are notoriously difficult to prosecute if they’re not caught in the act. Therefore, it’s not hard to see how the council could be convinced to spent $3000 – three weeks’ clean-up costs – on fitting cameras to the toilets to catch or deter would-be offenders.
The decision has already delivered results.
The cameras were installed in late October and The Courier is aware of three youths and two young adults who have been arrested or reported over different allegations of property damage to public facilities in those towns after police viewed security footage.
In the future the tough measure will hopefully stop young people – and they tend to be youths and young adults – from damaging community property.
There could be an argument that it just shifts the problem elsewhere, and that leaves the community with a tough choice.
As far as our privacy and civil liberty is concerned, just how far are we prepared to go for a pristine, crime-free environment?
In London a citizen cannot walk in many places without being recorded by security cameras.
Even in the Adelaide CBD a person’s movements are tracked by cameras in carparks, laneways, shops and on public transport. It is a sign of the times that we accept a level of supervision in exchange for public safety and law enforcement.
What level of supervision will Hills residents tolerate in their communities?
It is unknown if the people of Stirling will accept the cameras in the toilets and the council’s assurances that their private business is not being filmed.