Traders want police to stay

• Dare from Three Stories says there’s been less shouting in Freo’s CBD since the police trial. Photo by Justin Stahl.

FREMANTLE business owners are calling for more cops on the beat after a successful trial of extra police in the High Street Mall.

Business lobby group Freo Now surveyed 500 businesses after the eight-week trial, with 70 per cent of respondents saying it had a “positive impact on staff and customers”.

Freo Now chair Karl Bullers says that 83 per cent of businesses wanted the trial to become permanent, and that “foot traffic had definitely increased…as customers were not rushing to do their business and were prepared to walk through the CBD.”

Sketchier side

Dare, who works in Three Stories across the road from Fremantle police station, says there are “two sides of Freo – the hippy side and a sketchier side. I noticed a lack of noise and shouting around Freo [during the trial period] compared to what we’re used to.”

Brayden, a staffer at The Academy Brand, says the extra police “makes the public feel safer”, but “we do see a fair bit of people misbehaving; you can tell that it makes people feel uncomfortable”.

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce wants anyone witnessing a crime to report it to the police, instead of venting on social media, claiming it can artificially lower crime statistics and funding.

Charlotte, from Clear Skincare Clinic in the Mall, says that every few months they have to lock themselves in the shop because of anti-social behaviour taking place outside.

“I’ve noticed more police presence and a few more arrests during the trial, but I wouldn’t say it’s deterred anyone. It’s not bringing down the bad behaviour, [the police] are just following through with dealing it with it more,” she said.

She noted that Clear Skincare had 50-odd clinics across Australia, but the Fremantle branch is the only one that has to close by 7pm instead of 9pm, “because it just gets too dodgy after that”.

Freo Now board member Sam Reece said the organisation was now lobbying to try and get the police presence permanently increased in Fremantle, as it wouldn’t take long before things slipped again.

It comes as police have revealed a shocking increase in shoplifting in Fremantle of more than 50 per cent in the last year, part of a city-wide spike. Only Armadale had a bigger increase.

Police say they’re doing all they can, even putting out more cut-out cardboard cops, but claimed the rise could also be attributed to more surveillance cameras being installed.

by JUSTIN STAHL

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