Anti-social forum

PERTH council is going to have another crack at trying to get on top of anti-social behaviour in Wellington Square, East Perth.

It’s organising an open community forum this morning, Saturday May 20, from 9.30am on the Wellington Street side of the square.

The park attracts up to 100 homeless people a night during the warmer months, many drawn into Perth from rural areas for treatment at Royal Perth Hospital, or to support relatives.

Jim Meneely from the East Perth Community Safety Group says many can’t afford accommodation, or are simply bought into the city by bureaucrats and then left to their own devices.

• East Perth Community Safety Committee chairman Jim Meneely talks with Sen Const Kristy Stephen and Const Justin Fallows about issues in Wellington Square. Photo by Steve Grant

Fornicating

Mr Meneely says they’ve tried to convince the health department to divert some of the patients to bigger regional centres which offer the same services (particularly dialysis) but have had no success so far.

“I just can’t understand why they keep doing that,” he says.

Meanwhile Mr Meneely attended a meeting with residents of apartments overlooking a small community park directly opposite the ABC building on Royal Street this week. The residents told City of Perth staff and police that homeless people on their way to Wellington Square were mainlining drugs, fornicating, drinking and fighting under their windows on the way through.

One resident, who didn’t want to be named, said she’d listened to a woman being assaulted and held concerns for her safety, but before she rang police the group moved on so she didn’t bother: “It’s such a regular occurrence,” she said.

During her early-morning walk the next day she came across police establishing a crime scene in a nearby park and discovered that the woman had died from her injuries.

The residents say the troublemakers usually stop by for a couple of hours, but a few have taken to sleeping (and other things) on mattresses in the gardens under their windows.

WA Police say only nine reports have come from the small park, while there’s about 30 a week stemming from the square itself, urging residents to report all anti-social behaviour so officers know to include the site when doing their regular patrols.

Low reporting of crimes was also behind a decision by police to reduce the number of officers in the area a year or so ago, but that decision’s since been reversed.

Perth council CEO Martin Mileham told the Voice at a meeting last week the council was keen to move beyond the brouhaha over lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s declarations of gifts and travel and spread the word about the good work its being doing, singling out Wellington Square and the council’s collaboration with police as an example. But when the Voice asked the council’s media department for details about recent initiatives and a background on the issues that led to the meeting, it took them six days to come up with this: “The City of Perth instigated the meeting to provide an avenue for two-way communication between the City and neighbouring business and residents, allowing the community to voice feedback or concerns.”

by STEVE GRANT

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