CANDIDATES for Fremantle in the upcoming State Election had a lot to say about crime in the area.
Read their full thoughts below.
Simone McGurk (Labor):
I’ve spoken to residents and local businesses who have all been affected by the very real issues crime and anti-social behaviour in Fremantle. I believe dealing with these issues is essential to reinvigorating the CBD. It will also improve the quality of life in the suburbs of the Fremantle electorate, such as Beaconsfield, White Gum Valley or Hamilton Hill. In all these places I’ve met with residents to talk about the issues with crime they are experiencing in their neighbourhoods.
I believe drug use, mental health issues and homelessness lie at the heart of crime and anti-social behaviour in Fremantle.
It’s clear that under the Liberal Government’s mismanagement, our economy is in decline and people are losing their jobs. As a result some people end up on the streets, particularly in urban centres like Fremantle. To deal with crime and antisocial behaviour we have to deal with these factors.
Crime and anti-social behaviour are certainly common in Fremantle’s nightlife, but I believe that they are not isolated to those times.
It’s always important to remember that many people still visit bars and restaurants in Fremantle and have a great time.
Tackling crime and antisocial behaviour requires a comprehensive, round-the-clock approach, which includes policing as well as dealing with drug use, mental health problems and homelessness.
Dealing with excessive alcohol consumption and drug abuse will include returning to a more traditional form of policing with more officers on the beat in Fremantle.
A Labor Government would also implement a coordinated and targeted methamphetamine action plan that will tackle prevention and provide treatment and rehabilitation to those affected.
We have also announced more beds available for people experiencing mental illnesses.
I believe a combination of better policing, tackling methamphetamine use, providing better services for people experiencing mental illnesses and homelessness is the key to reducing crime in Fremantle.
WA Labor has put forward a comprehensive plan to do this and a Labor Government would implement this plan if elected on 11 March.
Hayden Shenton (Liberal):
Speaking with many people including Fremantle Police Senior Sergeant, crime in the Fremantle electorate has much reduced over the last eight years although there is an interesting recent increase in assaults for Spearwood. There are areas that people will not go for various reasons although the Fremantle Senior Sergeant assured they are the places most likely to routinely have police presence.
Having said that, due to past incidences, many who do not live in or frequent Fremantle CBD for example, carry beliefs that Fremantle is not at all safe contrary to reality.
Many if not most of the issues have been related to drugs and alcohol and large events increasing local population of some 32,000 to near 100,000.
The Liberal government has announced tougher penalties for those drink & drug driving; the Meth Strategy providing more police with vehicle fleet, funding to government legal fraternity and rehabilitation, targeting traffickers; and jail for those attacking or evading police.
The development of Fremantle electorate thus increasing the houses population, business opportunities therefore the economy, will make a great difference to the area in curbing general crime although some crime prevails as found in the likes of Applecross, which for example, brings us back to the Liberal government Meth Strategy.
The Fremantle Senior Sergeant has asked that I support their achievements and community policing efforts by ensuring the government departments and agencies that appropriately take on persons brought into custody as required under their jurisdiction, as the police can only attend to the immediate situation. That challenge I accept.
Martin Spencer (Greens):
Crime appears to be more prevalent in Fremantle because of the fact that it attracts more people. The crime figures do show more assaults and other crimes than surrounding suburbs but this appears to be the same for any of the City Centres around the metropolitan area. Safety and Security has been an important issue for many people when I have spoken to them on out door knocking.
In the suburbs the key concerns appear to be around break ins whereas in the City the concerns are more about feeling safe on the streets. There are several underlying issues that can contribute to a increase in feeling unsafe.
This can be as simple as a concentration in the media of reporting crime or a more visible presence of marginal groups within the City.
The presence of alcohol and drugs is always an issue especially late at night. The concentration of drinking establishments and the behaviour of some patrons after excessive consumption leads to a concentration of some anti social behaviours. A lot is being done already.
The continual increase in the Responsible Service of Alcohol and owners of establishments and their staff becoming more aware of their responsibilities has enabled a more acceptable level of impact.
There has also been an increase in the community partnerships such as the Nyoongar Patrol, Fremantle Community Safety Officers, better liaison with the WA Police and more emergency services for those unfortunate enough to have to sleep rough. More affordable housing opportunities would also remove some of the perception of anti social behaviour.
The Greens have launched its plan for a new approach to tackling drugs in our communities through investing in harm reduction and treating personal drug use as a health issue.
(We would reduce crime) through increasing the access to affordable housing and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres.
We will also ensure the effective use of our current police force is a top priority by enabling more police to be able to attend and investigate crimes rather than undertaking other jobs that can be undertaken by non-commissioned personnel.
Chris Jenkins (Socialist Alliance):
At least one woman a week is dying across Australia in situations of domestic violence, yet this is largely unspoken of. If a shark or a Muslim was killing people at a tenth of that rate, it’d be all over the news. Successive governments have failed to provide adequate funding for women’s refuges meaning women are forced to stay in dangerous conditions at home.
Prisons are overcrowded and many people there are no real threat to the community. Next to none of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody have been implemented decades and numerous deaths later. Governments must be made accountable for these deaths which their policies directly contribute to.
Other street based crimes such as brawls and break-ins are important social problems, however Socialist Alliance does not adhere to the ‘war on crime’ mantra that many conservative elements like to peddle. Rather, we advocate a rehabilitative approach that focuses on the social, political and economic reasons behind such behaviour.
Studies have shown that violence and social dysfunction directly correlate to levels of inequality within a society, as well as the status of women.
People denied a sense of purpose and a nurturing environment, as well as means of satisfying their needs are likely to take that out on those around them. As inequality gets worse, presumably so would the dysfunction.
The larger scale violence inflicted by government and the corporate sector reflect the current economic system that prioritises private wealth accumulation; channelling resources and power into the hands of an ever smaller group of people.
Under this system, greed, inequality and corporate donations to political parties are ‘legitimate’ while the interests of the community and environment are ignored.
Night clubs and other social outlets need not be associated with crime. The fact they currently are is due to both the social conditioning I mentioned above, but also the media’s fascination of reporting on crime even when incidences are declining. Again, dealing with the roots of social discord needs to be the focus.
Drugs and alcohol abuse must be seen as a social and medical issue, not criminal.
The fact that drugs are currently illegal leaves their manufacture and sale in the hands of profit-driven interests without any social accountability.
Countries that have decriminalised/legalised drugs have seen a decrease in crimes associated with them, as well as freeing up the resources allocated to policing and prosecuting to be used in socially beneficial services like health and community counselling.
Street or residential crime is usually a sign of social, economic or psychological distress, and needs a collaborative, grassroots approach.
In the broader community, this collaboration could take the form of inclusive consultation between government and the community to identify the needs of those most vulnerable and prioritise programs and services that meet those needs.
Warren Duffy (One Nation):
It’s obvious things are not perfect in Fremantle with one in ten residents being affected by a crime and that’s just those that are reported.
With 731 reported crimes in 2015, almost half were assaults at 342 people speaking to police.
Secondly burglary is something none of us like to come home to but making it known to those caught that they will receive a sentence when they are caught would deter those thinking of entering your home or business.
I personally have not witnessed any bad behaviour in Fremantle and we enjoy restaurants and bars up to twice a week.
One Nation would like to introduce 1000 new police officers into the force bringing back a presence amongst the public.
Eyes and ears on the street are a great way to identify and act on unwelcome behaviour and illegal substances.
Public education to lock up homes and vehicles plus a bolstered neighbourhood watch scheme.
Then again, there is no point calling your local police station if nobody is there so let’s get another 1000 police on the job.
West Australian’s deserve more and 1000 more police officers is just a little of our law and order policy.