Armadale CBD businesses are relieved city of Armadale councillors have agreed to spend $26,600 on a three-month security trial in the Jull Street Mall later this year.
The businesses had been screaming for security services in the mall for more than five years saying antisocial behaviour was driving customers away.
The proposal was discussed at Monday night’s ordinary council meeting but was met with strong opposition from councillor’s Mark Geary, Ruth Butterfield and Donna Shaw.
Mr Geary described it as an emotive response, which did not fit in with the city’s long term Jull Street reactivation plan.
He also said the success of the program would be hard to measure.
Ms Shaw said hiring security would let police off the hook and pressure should be placed on them to better resource police in the Armadale CBD.
Councillor Kerry Busby supported the trial and said it was a small price to pay to address an issue that was getting worse. He said it would show businesses and residents the council was serious about revitalising the mall.
Mayor Henry Zelones said antisocial behaviour had been an issue in the mall since the 90s.
He said the recent infrastructure works to the mall, which included better lighting ‘had not been a success’ and CCTV was not deterring crime.
He said in the recent Growing Armadale survey crime and antisocial behaviour was the number one issue and it had to be addressed.
Dome Armadale owner Graeme Hill was ecstatic the council agreed to the trail.
“For us it was a nice little win,” he said,
“It’s great for them to put the public safety at the forefront of everything.
“We keep going down, our numbers keep going down.
“We close early for a reason and that is to make our staff feel safe.”
Nawty Secrets owner Sheryl Kelly said the trial would benefit everyone who worked or shopped in the mall.
“It benefits the community more so than us,” she said.
“It’s making it a safer environment for the community to come and spend the time in the mall and do what they want to do.”
Member for Armadale Tony Buti had been driving the push for security and said while it was just a first step it was a step in the right direction.
“I don’t think anyone that was proposing it feels like it’s going to be the magic bullet, far from it, but it’s just an extra thing that’s needed,” he said.
“At this stage police resources don’t seem to be able to have a continuous presence in the mall and the CBD as a whole.
“The city is to be congratulated for spending a considerable amount of money for beautifying the area but if we won’t address the issue of antisocial behaviour that investment will not yield the returns that it should.”
‘Police presence is fine‘
Armadale officer in charge Senior Sergeant Glenn Spencer welcomed Armadale council’s decision but hosed down suggestions police weren’t patrolling the CBD well enough.
“We have an increased presence at our peak times, regardless of whether the CBD team is working or not,” he said.
“We look at those peak times and we have an increased presence in the mall.
“Regardless of whether the council go ahead with their trial or not, that won’t change our method of policing.
“Since I’ve got here we’ve actually increased that presence in the CBD.”
He said crime prevention was not just a police task.
“In terms of the trial, anything that contributes to crime prevention or crime reduction is worth trying.
“The key point I’d like to make is that crime prevention and crime reduction is not just police responsibility, it’s the responsibility of the whole community.”
He said police could only act when there has been a report of antisocial behaviour.
“We can’t just issue a move on notice for a person because they’re there, it’s got to be linked to something, some sort of behaviour,” he said.
“If we talk about the wider issue of homelessness and people without employment and people without things to do their presence in the mall might make people fear there’s an increase in crime when that’s not actually matched by reality.
“That’s the challenge for us, dealing with those side issues but we can’t actually impinge on their lawful right to sit on the bench in the mall.
“So what our action has to be is linked to antisocial or criminal behaviour.”