NEWS

Iqaluit security cam footage of minors on Facebook sparks controversy

01/09/2015 08:26 EST | Updated 03/11/2015 05:59 EDT
An Iqaluit property owner's Facebook posts of security camera footage showing children allegedly causing mischief have sparked controversy.

The posts carry the message: 'These kids have been causing a lot of trouble on Nunastar property.'

Tim MacLeod, general manager for Nunastar, says the strong reaction has made his company think twice about what it posts online.

"We didn’t expect any negative spinoff," he says. "And honestly this Facebook post has got more attention than we expected."

Nunastar owns several properties in Iqaluit, including the city’s tallest building known as the 8-Storey, which includes apartments as well as a hotel, restaurant, bar and cinema.

MacLeod says it has become a bit of a hangout for mischief-causing children.

"Going through cars, stealing things from cars, damaging our walls, punching holes in the Gyprock, knocking on tenants' doors at night, bothering them at night, things like that."

Usually, security cameras are what catch children vandalizing property.

"What's happening is the kids are seeing our cameras are all around our buildings, we can see what you're doing, we kind of use that as a deterrent to people," MacLeod says.

But he took it one step further when he posted some of the footage on the popular Facebook page Iqaluit Public Service Announcements with this message:

"These kids have been causing a lot of trouble on Nunastar property. Last night at 8:30 they entered the new 700 block apartment building and damaged the fire alarm panel, pulling it partially off of the wall. Later they went to the Frobisher Inn Dining room and caused a disruption and were ejected by staff. They proceeded to tamper with the bank machine, then tried to get into the bar, and finally at 11:30 p.m. went back to the 700 block to do additional damage to the fire alarm panel."

Some of the footage shows several children tampering with a car, though it's not clear if there's any damage. Other footage, where the kids are more identifiable, shows them wandering inside the 8-Storey Building's café area and lingering in a brightly lit stairwell. 

The post drew a flurry of responses.

Most of them were supportive, but some commenters, including Jerry Ell, say children need the freedom to make mistakes without it haunting them later in life.

"To have this posted on Facebook, over the Internet, that'll be there forever, and they won't be able it wipe it out," Ell says.

The RCMP says it's not illegal to post pictures or videos of minors online as long as they haven't yet been charged with a crime — something that can’t happen until age 12, says RCMP Sgt. Yvonne Niego.

But Niego also recommends talking to the police first.

"We highly recommend seeking RCMP input in how we go about posting information because it can interfere with an investigation."

MacLeod says the comments have made him think twice about the posts.

He's not sure if he'll keep doing it.

"So then it goes back to, what do we do with these kids?"

MORE:cbcNews