More cops patrolling city’s troubled beats

FOOT PATROL: Constable Prentice, Constable Cosgrave, Leading Senior Constable Bonavia and Senior Sergeant Robinson patrolling Bridge Mall.

FOOT PATROL: Constable Prentice, Constable Cosgrave, Leading Senior Constable Bonavia and Senior Sergeant Robinson patrolling Bridge Mall.

POLICE will continue to ramp up their patrols in problem zones in Ballarat’s CBD in a bid to prevent anti-social behaviour in the city’s streets. 

Ballarat Senior Sergeant Neale Robinson said police had been patrolling the Bridge Mall, Little Bridge Street bus stop and other areas.

“In the lead up to Christmas, the Ballarat Police Station have been, and will continue to provide an increased presence in the CBD area with uniform foot patrols,” Senior Sergeant Robinson said.

“These patrols will target community safety issues in and around the Bridge Mall, Bakery Hill, Little Bridge Street and Central Square vicinities. The foot patrols will work in conjunction with our Bike Patrols in providing a greater visible police presence in the CBD and a greater ability to more proactively engage with members of our community.” 

Senior Sergeant Robinson said police had successfully arrested a number of people for drug possession, theft, possessions of weapons and arrested number of people on outstanding warrants. He said the areas police were patrolling were common “hangout” areas from troublesome young people which often led to other people feeling unsafe.

The Little Bridge Street area has been targeted by police in recent years and will go undergo a transformation when a pocket park is built next year. However latest crime statistics show police have had significant success in driving down crime. Crime statistics data collected between April 2011 and March 2016 from 15 major streets, including Little Bridge Street, showed the number of recorded incidences showed a 23 per cent overall decrease between these dates. 

“Anecdotally we do see a decrease in anti-social behaviour when we are patrolling. It also gives officers the opportunity to proactively engage with the community,” Senior Sergeant Robinson said. The patrols come as police figures show front line police numbers in Ballarat have decreased by nearly six percent in the last 15 months – an issue the state government hopes to amend by hiring at least 2400 new officers. Three quarters of Victoria’s police districts have fewer uniform officers now than 15 months ago.

The plans to spend more than $1 billion would represent a 20 per cent boost in the size of Victoria’s police force. Police minister Lisa Neville would not elaborate about any future announcement regarding police numbers, but acknowledged that some youth offenders had caused significant trauma. The government is working with the Chief Commissioner and the Police Association on a new allocation model to determine the future needs of police. - With The Age