Residents raise safety concerns at East Melbourne community meeting
East Melbourne residents have come together to collaborate with various stakeholders at a community safety meeting on August 14.
The meeting was chaired by Victoria Police at the East Melbourne Library, which saw more than 80 residents in attendance along with representatives from the City of Melbourne and the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC).
Residents had the opportunity to voice concerns and share personal experiences, including issues around anti-social behaviour, drug activity, misuse of e-scooters, and parking and traffic matters.
This included “chronic” traffic conditions post events or game days held at the MCG, people “making themselves a nuisance with aggressive begging” at the Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens, and suspected drug activity on Simpson St.
“On one occasion when we reported to police about drugs with no subsequent action by the police, a couple of days later, residents’ cars were broken into at the same place where the drugs were transacted and/or injected,” a resident said at the meeting.
Other matters raised included anti-social behaviour at The Comfort Inn Hotel and City Edge Apartments at 90 and 92 Albert St, which, as reported earlier this year by Inner City News, were being used as emergency accommodation sites, but reports of drug activity, graffiti, and rubbish being dumped in and around the buildings had left residents feeling on edge.
Another resident spoke about e-scooters speeding and posing a safety risk to children and the elderly, while also adding they were being “left abandoned” and “destroying our amenity”.
The meeting also heard that rideshare vehicles were insufficiently combating anti-social activity, with some people “yelling, littering and damaging property and plants”.
East Melbourne Group president Greg Bisinella said all parties present at the meeting expressed their commitment to working closely with the community and to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council was working closely with Victoria Police and other agencies to deliver initiatives that improve safety in the streets.
“Our Safe City Camera Program is the guardian angel of our streets – operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to reduce crime by deterring potential offenders and boosting crime detection,” she said.
“We’re also committed to creating pathways out of homelessness, to ensure everyone in our city has a roof over their heads. Through our Make Room initiative, homelessness support hubs, and work to support people sleeping rough, we’re stepping up to provide more safe and supported accommodation for some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable people.”
In response to the community meeting, the council said it had already acted on several issues, including carrying out an audit of lighting at Fitzroy Gardens with globes being replaced as required and increasing proactive patrols to target illegal parking near the MCG on event days.
The council also noted its 2023–24 budget included almost $6 million for critical safety infrastructure and resources, with lighting in key precincts and the operation of the Safe City Camera Program, as well as $100,000 to expand the Salvation Army’s street team to boost safety at night.
Outreach workers contracted to Launch Housing patrol the city from Monday to Friday and support pathways out of homelessness.
Melbourne East local area police commander Inspector Dale Huntington said the meeting was a “great opportunity to hear the thoughts of locals and ensure our policing operations align to the concerns of the community”.
“As our priority over the next 12 months and working in partnership with stakeholders, including local resident groups, traders’ associations, key community locations and educational institutions, we intend to target serious and violent crime, general crime, road policing and public order issues,” he said.
Inspector Huntington pointed to the success of Operation PETRICHOR during the recent school holidays, which he said had had an impact on youth offending around the CBD, while also improving the perceptions of safety around railway stations, shopping centre precincts and key community locations including parks.
He also said police would continue to target illegal e-scooter use through Operation Ride Safe including those riding on pavements, speeding, not wearing helmets, having multiple passengers, and riding while over the prescribed alcohol limit.
"Although police lead the fight against crime in the city and particularly residential areas like East Melbourne, it is a collaborative and joint partnership with locals and police to ensure our overall crime continues to decline, like it has over the past decade."
"Therefore, please report any incident that you feel requires police attention, without this local information police are not fully appraised of the issues affecting residents."
To report non-urgent crimes and events, call the Police Assistance Line 131 444.
The MCC have been contacted for comment.•