Keystone kops?

PETER TAGLIAFERRI is a former mayor of Fremantle and deeply involved in mayor contender Ra Stewart’s campaign. He had many a stoush with the police hierarchy during his time in office over getting more cops on the beat. 

Did you see it? The advert, paid for by Fremantle council, featuring current mayor Brad Pettitt on a bike with police.

Isn’t it good to know that we have police on bicycles to help us if something goes wrong? Imagine: 1.30am Saturday morning and a drunken brawl breaks out on the cappuccino strip—never fear, the boys in blue on their bikes are here!

Bicycles? That’s the grand strategy to help with policing in Fremantle? Okay, sure, they have their place…but if something major happens, many of the specialist police units are now based in Cockburn. And are police on bicycles the best response to a situation that may be getting out of hand?

• Peter Tagliaferri. File photo

Yes, I have gone on about the need for police in Fremantle many times before. And with good reason. It must be understood that Fremantle is a major tourism and entertainment precinct—closely associated with nearby residential properties—and is something of a unique situation.

Given the abundance of restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs, there will always be a mix of people—certain sectors will have the aim of over-indulging in alcohol, others are families just wanting to relax, tourists wanting to explore and locals popping in and out for their various needs.

Put them all together and it’s sometimes a volatile mix, as has been evidenced in the past.

Drunk and disorderly behaviour, at best, is simply annoying and, at worst, makes people feel unsafe and is the gateway to assault. Fremantle has many licensed premises within five minutes’ walking distance of each other. Add those who have fallen victim to the meth scourge and anything can happen.

So why didn’t Fremantle’s current council lobby for a new permanent police station complex during the recent state election? Lobbying can work.

A previous council, together with the community, lobbied for the Hilton police station to be re-opened and was successful.

But this has now closed, as well as the former Fremantle Police Complex, which has been sold off.

What we’re left with is a police station in an ex-bank building, which is not designed for police purposes nor a permanent solution, and the result is less police for the Fremantle area.

There also used to be a Fremantle Community Policing post in Queensgate, a dedicated group of volunteers who fed important information back to local police officers.

They also ran several prevention and intervention programs addressing local crime issues, helping to keep the community safe while providing an invaluable resource to the local police. They’re now long gone to Cockburn as well.

Our community deserves to feel safe whether in their own homes or enjoying the varying forms of entertainment Fremantle has to offer—and it’s important visitors to the area feel safe as well.

Crime by its very nature is complex and successfully tackling the causes of offending and anti-social behaviour requires a broad approach. But reducing police resources in what is widely regarded as WA’s other major city is not one of the solutions.

Will it take a tragedy before someone sits up and takes notice? Need a specialist police unit? Off to Cockburn you go. Want some ideas on how to stop crime before it happens? Better head to Cockburn…

To think we’re going to be saved by a few police on bikes in Fremantle is laughable. And to use ratepayers’ money for a paid advert to highlight this is black humour at its worst.

But, unfortunately, the situation is no joke.

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