Police battle to control youth

Central Park in Joondalup has become a favourite hangout for youth who have been accused of harassing park users.
Central Park in Joondalup has become a favourite hangout for youth who have been accused of harassing park users.

The Times contacted Joondalup officer-in-charge Craig Wanstall after park users emailed the paper complaining of violent and obscene behaviour.

West Coast Institute lecturer Phillip Bolan made a complaint to police in October. He said he had been assaulted by two men at the on-campus Pavilion Restaurant next to Central Park on October 25.

In his statement to police, Mr Bolan described being targeted by what he believed to be a group of teenagers throwing bottles, rocks and sticks at the restaurant windows.

He said he was punched in the head when he attempted to intervene.

‘I received at least five blows to my head, resulting in a small cut above my left eye and swelling ” this has since developed into a black eye,’ he said.

Local fitness trainer Saturn Turnbull was another who contacted the Times.

She said she had called police on December 3 after being harassed while running a fitness class at the park.

Park users had made lewd remarks and exposed themselves to the group.

‘Twenty to 30 youths were passed out in some corners, vomiting in the areas we would usually use, ‘bonging up’ in another corner,’ she said.

‘Every evening we have some sort of harassment to the point where I can’t use any of the areas near them.’

She said she would hire her own security if the behaviour continued.

Snr Sgt Wanstall said there were ‘always issues at Central Park’, leading police to regularly patrol the area on foot.

‘Youths drinking alcohol and anti-social behaviour is the issue,’ he said.

‘All we can do is target it; I don’t know that we’ll ever get on top of it.

‘They tend to congregate there because they can hide to some extent. It’s not every week; it can go well for some months, then something happens and it pops up.’

He said police were working with the City of Joondalup to make improvements.

CCTV cameras would soon be installed throughout the park and surrounding land, including the West Coast Institute.

Thick scrub was regularly thinned out to lessen the cover for anti-social behaviour. A power point at the war memorial, which was regularly used to play loud music, had been removed.

He considered it an ‘over-reaction’ when told a fitness group was considering its own security.

‘If it’s that bad, ring the police and we’ll attend,’ he said.

Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said Central Park was a ‘natural public space gathering point’ for young people as it was near the shopping centre and train line.

‘As part of its work with police to tackle any anti-social behaviour at Central Park, City Watch officers provide daily patrols of the area, while members of the City’s Youth Outreach Team and the local police regularly engage with people at the park,’ he said.