CCTV and security

Risk Matters - Autumn 2024

Warning posters

CCTV, alarms and dedicated security may require significant investment (depending on scope), but for those local governments who have identified serious hazards associated with ASB, it’s an investment that may be warranted. When considering these options, it’s important to consider not just the initial investment but the ongoing commitment of resources.

Questions to consider include:

  • Will CCTV be checked? If so, when?
  • How will CCTV footage be kept? What are the protocols for deleting CCTV footage?
  • Is there a maintenance and management plan for CCTV?
  • Who has access to CCTV and responsibility for managing footage? Has a policy been developed?
  • Will alarms be monitored by an external provider? Is monitoring 24/7?
  • If an external provider is used what contracts are in place that clearly spell out the relationship and commitments?
  • Who will respond to intruder alarms? This should be a security response, not staff. Security escorting management staff is an alternative or if damage is evident on security response, staff may have to attend and inspect when the area is secure.
  • Is there a duress alarm verification process? For example,
    a localised alert to existing staffed areas of the facility and to the external monitoring provider to contact the facility and dependant on response, escalate to attendance by security or Police.
  • Is there consistency of; device types/models; and general language used across facilities?
  • Have staff been properly trained in using security
    devices and their protocols? Will there be unique language and code for different facilities, e.g. area/zone codes, can be communicated in emergency procedures for the particular facility.

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Terms of entry and use

Displaying terms of entry signage is a powerful tool and provides a consistent message to all facility users. Clearly articulating what may be the expected behaviours, unacceptable behaviours, and potential consequences (e.g., eviction or Police will be contacted) presents a first line of communication regarding the local government’s operational intentions for the facility/s. This also provides facility staff a physical benchmark (something to point to) when attempting to manage ASB.

Terms and conditions of entry can also be reinforced through links to each facility displayed on the local government’s website. Terms of use could also be linked to community- messaging program that communicates a zero-tolerance approach to violence and ASB at facilities.

As a potential deterrent, conditions should also reflect that the entrant’s actions are recorded and monitored where CCTV is at the facility.

Closeup of warning sign
Warning posters

Emergency planning – when ASB escalates

In the unfortunate event that ASB escalates it’s vital that local government staff know how to manage the situation. All facilities should have a document or plan for managing emergencies and all staff must be trained in their execution.

Emergency plans should be tailored to each facility and provide guidance on how a situation should be handled. The plan could also consider the seriousness of scenarios for example personal threat, armed offender, armed intrusion, armed hold up, workplace violence, and aggressive customers.

Staff training

Appropriately and regular training to staff is crucial in local governments response to ASB. For many people, knowing what to do in a situation will make them feel safer and more confident in the workplace.

Training needs to recognise that different staff roles may have various levels of engagement with the community and therefore may vary with their levels of exposure to ASB. Training should consider the unique environment in which the local government’s facilities run.

For example:

  • In some areas children are responsible for ASB and responding to their behaviour will require a different approach to an adult. There may be underlying social, mental health and trauma issues that will influence or direct their behaviour.
  • Substance abuse may be an underlying cause of behaviour.
  • A local cultural understanding and awareness may be necessary.

It should be noted that ASB training is quite different to ‘handling difficult customers’ and should be tailored to the specific issues of the area and facility.

83% drop in ASB when Port Hedland tackles anti-social behaviour

For several years the Town of Port Hedland, and in particular the South Hedland area was adversely impacted by anti-social behaviour. In 2021, the Town experienced a significant and sustained increase in ASB. There were several distressing incidents in and around four sites – the South Hedland Aquatic Centre, JD Hardie Youth Centre, Wanangkura Stadium, and the library. Incidents included acts of property damage, vandalism, stealing, verbal abuse, aggression and intimidation, violence directed at staff and the public, spitting, urinating, and defecating in public, hooning and dangerous driving, drunk and disorderly behaviour and fighting.

Sandra Brockwell, Senior WHS Advisor at the Town of Port Hedland commented that they were faced with a growing number of instances of anti-social behaviour at four community facilities. This was a physical and psychosocial hazard to staff and the community as well as causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to Town infrastructure.

The prevalence of ASB undermined the Town’s wider environmental, social and governance objectives by disturbing and damaging local amenities, creating tension and unrest within the community. It challenged the Town to devise appropriate and proportionate responses that balanced their reputation and obligation to safeguard the welfare of employees, integrity of assets and safety of the public
using the Town’s facilities.

Identifying the problem

The ASB had a detrimental effect on staff, critical assets, and public use of those assets. In particular, the Town’s executive leadership team had grave concerns about the effect on staff safety and morale, the costs of repairing and replacing property that was damaged, and the potential for the Town to incur a liability resulting from a foreseeable risk of injury to the public.

Adopting risk management approach

To address the issue, the Town of Port Hedland engaged consultants, who conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Town’s current risk management arrangements and assessed the approach and consequences of ASB on staff, assets, and the public. Their objective was to make recommendations aimed at decreasing the risks associated with ASB at the town’s four main facilities.

An independent and detailed physical risk assessment and inspection was conducted at four sites – South Hedland Aquatic Centre, JD Hardie Youth Centre, Wanangkura Stadium, and the library. These inspections took place during high-risk periods when the facilities were open and closed for business.

“The consultants visited the facilities and interviewed staff, stakeholders including the police and the Town’s security service provider as well as attending the community safety meeting. The result was a comprehensive report with 63 recommendations, which are being progressively implemented. The Town has reduced incidences of anti-social behaviour at their facilities from a high of 18 over the two-week Xmas period in 2021 to just three over the same two-week period in 2022,” said Lee Furness, Director Infrastructure Services at Town of Port Headland.”

Lee Furness, Director Infrastructure Services at Town of Port Headland


The Town was provided with 63 general and specific recommendations for the four facilities, these included:

  • Develop an overarching strategy and related operating procedures outlining its approach to managing the impacts and risks associated with ASB at the four sites.
  • Consider the application of DOC principles to existing facilities and consider retrofitting if needed.
  • Emergency procedures to include ASB and develop consistent response and language.
  • Internal and external stakeholders’ engagement including community and youth groups.
  • Ongoing monitoring and review of applied controls to determine if they’re working or can be improved.

The outcome

The Town demonstrated outstanding leadership, recognising that a whole of organisation approach was required. The executive and strategic leadership teams, along with WHS advisors, worked together to progressively consider and implement the recommendations. As a result, the Town achieved comprehensive improvements in anti-social behaviour incidents and psychological hazards.

Their work in reducing the impact of ASB and psychosocial hazards was also recognised by WorkSafe WA with the Town winning the ‘Best intervention to address psychosocial hazards’ award at the 2023 awards.

People lining up holding their awards
The Town of Port Hedland were winners at the Work Health and Safety Excellence Awards 2023, taking out the Best intervention to address a psychosocial hazard in the workplace category for their work to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Comparative data from incidents during the Christmas period further highlights the success of the Town’s interventions:

In addition to their efforts in addressing ASB, the Town of Port Hedland offers mental health first aid (MHFA) training and an employee assistance program (EAP) to support workers and promote mental wellbeing. MHFA training empowers personnel with the skills and knowledge to help individuals suffering
from mental illnesses, enabling tough conversations that could prevent suicide and save lives. Two-day mental health first aid courses have been delivered to various staff members, including directors, managers, supervisors, rangers, WHS advisors, and health and safety representatives.

The Town’s EAP provides valuable direct access to specialist mental health and wellbeing support for employees and their family members through dedicated 24/7 helplines.

Furthermore, the Town of Port Hedland is committed to the ongoing collection and reporting of incorrectly disposed needles and syringes in the community. They utilise staff and reporting pathways to manage reports and ensure safe disposal, contributing to a reduction of dangerous litter in the community. The Town also monitors and reports volatile substance use (VSU) products, collaborating with the Pilbara Community Alcohol

and Drug Service (PCADS) to gauge VSU in the community and respond with reduction initiatives.

Continuous education and training are provided to staff members to ensure they possess the necessary knowledge and skills
to carry out these tasks safely. This collaboration involves partnering with WA Country Health Services and PCADS.

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Other sections of this season's Risk Matters

Man painting mural on wall

The rising risk of anti-social behaviour

Across Western Australia local governments create and deliver spaces that welcome everyone – from libraries to recreation centres and playgrounds. These services and facilities foster community connection but unfortunately they can also witness anti-social behaviour.

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Warning posters

CCTV and security

CCTV, alarms and dedicated security may require significant investment (depending on scope), but for those local governments who have identified serious hazards associated with ASB, it’s an investment that may be warranted. When considering these options, it’s important to consider not just the initial investment but the ongoing commitment of resources.

Read more »