Banding Together for Safety of Schools in Need

With robberies, burglaries and vandalism becoming more frequent, several schools in New Zealand expressed increased concern for the safety of their students and faculty. In response, a group of leading security industry companies banded together to donate their time, expertise and surveillance cameras to Koru School, a primary school in Auckland’s Mangere. A New Zealand first, the program has big plans to help out deserving schools in low socio-economic areas with their security needs each year.

To make it all happen, Axis Communications joined forces with its New Zealand distributor Channel Ten, integrator Focus Digital Security Solutions, video management software (VMS) provider Milestone Systems, and DivioTec, who threw in the switches. They reached out to the New Zealand Police who were only too happy to put forward a list of the most deserving schools.

Ten of the cameras came from Swinburne University in Melbourne, and six were Axis ex-demonstration stock with updated firmware. Swinburne University upgrades its CCTV cameras every five years, and requires its used cameras to find a new lease of life in schools. According to Axis Communications’ Sargon Yousif, the cameras used are discontinued models, but even after their university service they still have another 10 years of life left: “When Axis take them back [from the university] we recondition them.”

Schools are very vulnerable to burglary, theft and willful damage, and Koru school in particular was a very frequent victim of crime prior to being fully-fenced a couple of years ago. The placement of the cameras and associated signage will serve to further deter crime occurring after hours. Ex-students are often involved in school burglaries. Their knowledge is used to target the high-valued items that schools cannot afford to lose. – Inspector Jason Hewett, Area Commander Counties Manukau West.

Koru School, screenshotCCTV can play an important role not only in deterring would-be thieves but also in identifying perpetrators after the event, particularly given the local gang and ex-student element. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of schools have surveillance cameras. Funding is a big barrier, particularly for schools in low decile areas.

According to Koru School principle Stanley Whata, the newly installed cameras have already made their mark. He noted that several staff work after hours and the new cameras have provided them with a greater sense of security and safety.

Installation of the cameras took crews a number of weeks during the school holidays to complete. According to Graham Zuill, Director of Focus Digital Security Solutions, members of his team were even prepared to undertake the work in their spare time to ensure the work was completed in a timely manner.

“From a school perspective it is very humbling that there are people out there thinking of us,” said Principal Whata.

From a policing perspective, it aligns well with our philosophy of prevention first. Our ultimate mission is to make New Zealand the safest country in the world. We can only do this by working together. – Inspector Hewett

Sergeant Kelly Brown, Counties Manukau West school community services supervisor, agreed. He reiterates the continued close involvement of police with schools throughout the area, through initiatives such as the ‘Cops in Schools’ program.

According to Clint Morris of Channel Ten Security Imports, the CCTV donation to Koru School is to become an ongoing program, with his band of industry colleagues looking to fix up two schools with surveillance cameras per year going forward. It looks like many more schools in the most need will benefit from the group’s generosity.

This is one of those stories that NZ Security takes particular delight in reporting. The equipping of the Koru School with CCTV surveillance means there is now one less low-decile school providing an easy target for thieves.

For the full version, visit New Zealand Security Magazine.