Crimes reported in the Fitzroy Street Precinct dropped 58 per cent following initiatives including a CCTV network, a Port Phillip Council report has revealed.

The final evaluation report for the Fitzroy and Little Grey Streets CCTV network charts crime and community sentiment for two years after the installation of seven CCTV cameras in Fitzroy Street in December 2016 (and the later addition of eight cameras in nearby Grey and Little Grey Streets to the network).

The most significant fall was in the number of drug offences leading to charges (down 86 per cent). Mayor Dick Gross said it was unlikely the drop was due solely to the arrival of CCTV as other variables, including Council’s alcohol and glass bans, community safety audits and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design projects, occurred over the same timeframe.

The report did find, however, that the CCTV network significantly improved the ability of police to quickly locate and arrest offenders and identify when resources were required.

While some members of the community suggested crime had shifted to nearby Jackson Street and surrounding laneways, this view was not supported by official statistics.

Cr Gross said assessing community perceptions of safety – one of the aims of the evaluation – was complex as it involved measuring “feelings” as well as statistics.

“While intercept surveys showed little change in perceptions of safety, key stakeholders including traders told us they believe CCTV has definitely made people feel safer and contributed to a growing optimism about a brighter future for Fitzroy Street,” Cr Gross said.

“Our Council is keen to build on this improvement as we continue working with Victoria Police, the Victorian Government, service organisations, traders, landlords and our community on a range of measures to bring Fitzroy Street back to its full potential.

Everyone has a role to play and Council will continue its efforts, from placemaking to our local laws officers accompanying police on patrols to address amenity issues.”

The long-term future of the Fitzroy Street CCTV system will be determined under a CCTV policy to be developed after Council has finalised its Community Safety Plan. In the meantime, they remain operational and evaluations will continue.

Background Seven CCTV cameras were installed along Fitzroy Street, from Grey Street to the Esplanade, in December 2016. The Victorian Government provided $246,250, through the Department of Justice’s Public Safety Infrastructure Fund, and Council contributed $156,406. Council is also responsible for continuing maintenance costs.

In 2018, this network was expanded with the installation of eight cameras in nearby Grey and Little Grey Streets, funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

The two-year Fitzroy Street evaluation was widened to include these additional cameras.