Po­lice data re­veals ex­tent of crime in city’s West End

The Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - MILES KEMP

THE alarm­ing level of vi­o­lence around Hind­ley St on Fri­day and Sat­ur­day nights is re­vealed by crime sta­tis­tics pub­lished to­day for the first time. The fig­ures were con­tained in a con­fi­den­tial po­lice brief­ing to the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral.

Par­ty­go­ers are twice as likely to fall vic­tim to vi­o­lence in the West End than else­where in the city, ac­cord­ing to the de­tailed brief­ing to John Rau.

In Hind­ley St alone, each week­end in 2016 there were an av­er­age of nine of­fences against peo­ple, such as as­sault or rob­bery, and of­fences against good or­der, such as drug deal­ing.

Po­lice used the fig­ures and in­tel­li­gence in the brief­ing pa­per late last year to suc­cess­fully re­quest new pow­ers to curb Fri­day and Sat­ur­day night vi­o­lence.

While the pow­ers were an­nounced pub­licly, the ex­tent of the prob­lem has not been re­vealed un­til now, af­ter the Op­po­si­tion suc­cess­fully ap­plied for the brief­ing us­ing the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act.

The “po­lice risk as­sess­ment” from Com­mis­sioner Grant Stevens to Mr Rau re­vealed that in the West End, peo­ple were “twice as likely to be vic­tims of of­fences against the per­son and good or­der and three times as likely to be ex­posed to be­hav­iour not in keep­ing with nor­mal com­mu­nity stan­dards’’.

In declar­ing an area a “pub­lic precinct”, po­lice are given the right to use metal de­tec­tors to search an in­di­vid­ual, ban peo­ple from en­ter­ing the area at cer­tain times, di­rect trou­ble­mak­ers to “move on”, re­move chil­dren from the area and fine peo­ple more than $1000 for be­hav­ing in a dis­or­derly or of­fen­sive man­ner.

The pow­ers ap­ply to the “City West Precinct” ev­ery Fri­day and Sat­ur­day night be­tween 6pm and 6am.

“Anal­y­sis of var­i­ous data sets, aug­mented by in­tel­li­gence anal­y­sis, has iden­ti­fied the area ... to have a height­ened risk to pub­lic or­der and safety dur­ing the hours of 6pm and 6am each Fri­day and Sat­ur­day,’’ Mr Stevens’s brief­ing states.

Op­po­si­tion po­lice spokesman Stephan Knoll said the fig­ures, which show vi­o­lence peaks at mid­night, con­tra­dicted po­lice ar­gu­ments sur­round­ing the pre­vi­ous at­tempt to curb vi­o­lence, the 3am lock­out laws in­tro­duced in 2013. A re­view 12 months later found the lock­out had lit­tle ef­fect.

“Most of the crime com­mit­ted in and around the West End precinct ac­tu­ally oc­curs around mid­night and calls into ques­tion the value of the 3am lock­out,’’ Mr Knoll said. “If the Gov­ern­ment wants to re­duce crime in South Aus­tralia, then it should deal with the fact that we have a drug cri­sis and sup­port Lib­eral mea­sures to curb drug use and sup­ply.”

Ade­laide West End As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman An­drew Wal­lace said it hoped the pub­lic precinct laws, as well as the 3am lock­out laws, would re­turn Hind­ley St to be­ing a safe lo­ca­tion to visit late at night.

“Giv­ing po­lice the pow­ers to prop­erly po­lice the area is a good thing,’’ he said.

“Some of the prob­lems have been eased by the lock(out) which has worked re­ally well and we hope that this lat­est ef­fort bears fruit and brings the street back to be­ing a re­ally good place again.’’

Po­lice Min­is­ter Chris Picton said crime in the area had dropped af­ter the 3am lock­out laws were in­tro­duced.

“If the Lib­er­als are say­ing they would scrap the lock­out, they would put peo­ple at fur­ther risk,’’ he said.

“If the Lib­er­als were se­ri­ous about tack­ling drug use, they wouldn’t have blocked laws to al­low po­lice to search the cars of drug users, as rec­om­mended by the Ice Task­force.’’

Late Night Venues As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tim Swaine said in trend terms, the fig­ures used by SAPOL in the brief­ing showed a fall from 2015 to 2016, and on that ba­sis he ques­tioned the “pub­lic precinct” de­ci­sion.

How­ever, he said the dec­la­ra­tion – that gives po­lice the same pow­ers on the street as they have in­side li­censed ve- nues – was sup­ported by the as­so­ci­a­tion.

“We are sup­port­ive of the abil­ity to de­clare precincts and give po­lice these pow­ers but we were con­cerned about what in­for­ma­tion they were us­ing to de­clare the precinct,’’ he said.

“(From) this doc­u­ment (it) doesn’t look like there is a great is­sue with pub­lic dis­or­der or pub­lic safety.’’

A Hind­ley St brawl on De­cem­ber 10 claimed the life of Jack Han­ley, 22. It hap­pened at 5.20am, 40 min­utes be­fore the pow­ers were to be lifted that day. At the time of the dec­la­ra­tion, a month be­fore the death, po­lice said the precinct would be safe for law-abid­ing peo­ple and would “not be a wel­com­ing space for drunken id­iots and crim­i­nals”.

The brief­ing lists the worst lo­ca­tions for week­end vi­o­lence. Hind­ley St had 480 of­fences against the per­son and good or­der in 2016, more than nine each week­end. North Tce had 170 and West Tce 45.

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