THE WA Police’s “Frontline 2020” model has been hailed for breaking a cycle of drinking and violence at Wellington Square.
Support for the model follows Labor branding it a “failed model” in the wake of a spike in crime statistics over the past six months.
“It may have worked in some small policing districts in the UK but it is not working here so it does need to be abandoned,” says WA Labor police shadow Michelle Roberts.
But Terry Maller has lived in East Perth 17 years and says it’s the only model to have an impact on drinking and fighting.
The new model takes a back-to-the-future approach: police are assigned to one area over a longer period so they become more familiar with individuals, and they get out of their cars and onto bikes and foot patrols.
Officers soon learn the nooks in trees used as hiding spots for booze and can pour out the goonbags before trouble starts.
People used to spot a cop car from across the park and hide booze from officers simply passing through without knowing the area or its characters.
“It stopped it within a month or so, a problem that existed for years,” Mr Maller says.
“From my perspective, and I can speak for a lot of people around the neighbourhood here, it has been absolutely successful.”
Neighbours told him the summer the policy started was the first time they’d been able to sit on their patio in the afternoon without any trouble.
Police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan told the ABC, “to say the model is responsible for the increase in crime is simply ignoring some of the more complex social problems that we are facing”.
“More people are being arrested, more people are being brought before the courts and there are more police available for deployment at peak times… but there are other elements of the model we just need to look at.”
He pointed out there’d been a similar rise in crime in regional areas where the model hadn’t been introduced.
by DAVID BELL