BALLARAT Police Sergeant Dave Collins says a greater police presence is the key to combating anti-social behaviour outside Central Square.
Sergeant Collins said the recent boost to police numbers in Ballarat allowed them to conduct more frequent patrols of the area, where swearing, spitting and intimidating behaviour by groups of loitering youths has left members of the public scared for their safety.
“A lot of the elderly people are scared,” he said.
“A lot of the times it’s just annoying the patrons, just their language.
“They can be intimidating hanging out the front.”
The shopping centre has had an ongoing problem with teenagers hanging around and intimidating shoppers, and in the past has played classical music and Scottish highland music to discourage them from loitering outside.
This initiative has now ceased, and Sergeant Collins said there were other deterrents available.
He said the police could issue council tickets for certain illegal behaviour such as swearing and spitting.
“It’s no big deals if kids are just sitting there. If they’re supposed to be in school we notify our youth resources officers.
“We want the shoppers to feel safe, not to mention the tourists that come to Ballarat.”
Sergeant Collins said although it could be “difficult” to take action against minors, police had found that taking their details was often enough to contain their behaviour.
“If it gets worse we take them to the court, get their parents in and go from there,” he said.