THE shocking murder of Melbourne ABC radio employee Jill Meagher has inevitably prompted discussion about improving public safety, but no matter what course authorities take, the most effective action will be that which we take as individuals.
CCTV footage from a Melbourne shop was instrumental in Victorian police making an arrest, however, whether more CCTV coverage in public areas makes them safer is far from certain.
Criminologists have said that the value of CCTV in deterring crime is questionable. While images caught on camera can help police trace the movements of victims and identify suspects, as was the case in Melbourne, cameras are far more effective in helping solve crime than in preventing it.
At best, the presence of cameras has the effect of shifting crime to other areas without surveillance.
When it comes to preventing violent crime in the first place, the message is that we should all avoid placing ourselves in situations where we are vulnerable.
This means looking out for the people in your group, avoiding isolated areas with few people around, particularly at night, and thinking about the level of risk you may be exposing yourself to.
It would be nice to think we could all walk home from a night out without having to think twice about our safety, but this would be naive.
There have, and always will be, risks associated with walking home after dark. It is important not to exaggerate these or to long for a past where a sense of community and a different set of values apparently made for a much safer society.
It is far more sensible to accept that with simple precautions like staying with a group and planning your transport home, you can reduce the risk of being the victim of a violent crime.
We have every right to expect police to protect our freedoms but we must shoulder responsibility for that too.