Victoria Police’s new operation clamps down on crime in Carlton
Carlton traders have welcomed a step up in police presence, particularly on Lygon St, after concerns were recently raised about the level of crime hitting the area.
Operation Velocita, which Victoria Police launched in July, has seen officers targeting public order, road, and vehicle-related crime on weekends.
The operation is aimed at ensuring the community is safe through a highly visible presence including foot and vehicle patrols along Lygon St and surrounding areas.
It follows a series of incidents earlier this year including a teenager who was taken to hospital after allegedly being stabbed outside an ice-cream shop in May in Lygon St – which sparked calls from the community for “immediate action”.
Senior Sergeant Carl Whibley, who is running Operation Velocita, said it had so far proven successful with officers from North Melbourne Police Station continuing to address community safety concerns.
“Carlton is an overwhelmingly safe area; we don’t have a lot of issues, but we know one incident can impact the feelings of community safety so it’s important that the community feels safe as well as visitors wanting to enjoy the nightlife,” he said.
“We’ve had really positive feedback. I attended a community function last week [late July] and it was brought to my attention that the traders had noted the increased police presence particularly in the evenings so that’s positive.”
Inner City News was given exclusive access to the operation one Friday night in July which saw a heavy police presence on Lygon St both on road and on foot, with officers also conducting random walk-throughs of licenced venues.
In July, police checked more than 150 people and intercepted 140 vehicles with two drivers returning an evidentiary breath test between 0.1 and 0.15 – double and triple the legal limit, respectively.
Officers also issued 67 fines for traffic related behaviour and arrested three people for offences including outstanding warrants.
Sen-Sgt Whibley said the highway patrol units had also been supporting the operation and used automatic numberplate recognition technology to detect any driving offences while also conducting random drug and alcohol testing.
He said while there had been a “slight uptick” in public order offences “it’s not a major concern”.
“We do have resources during the week and Lygon St, Carlton, remains a focus for us at all times and they will see an increase in police presence as well.”
Carlton Inc. Traders’ Association executive officer Phillip Mansour, who has been vocal in his campaign to have more police on the beat, said the latest operation was a “forward thinking initiative”.
“It’s great to see Victoria Police has been proactive in initiating this action upon liaising with the local community,” he said.
However, he noted the City of Melbourne had yet to contact traders after they highlighted their concerns of safety on the front page of Inner City News in June.
“Additionally, nobody from the City of Melbourne has contacted Carlton Inc. even after highlighting these challenges in writing with a question at the council meeting in June,” he said.
“It seems the safety and security of businesses and patrons in Carlton isn’t a priority for the City of Melbourne with the lack of response and action.”
Paul Ferraro, who owns the University Café on Lygon St, said he had definitely noticed police upping the ante with patrols having increased by “tenfold”.
“Their presence is so far so good. Obviously, they must have heard us and listened to us and done something about it,” he said.
The operation is part of the Neighbourhood Policing approach, with the Carlton area being registered as a priority for the local police and the community. •
Caption: Police were out in force in Lygon St in July.