Page 878 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act, pursuant to section 13—Canberra Institute of Technology—Annual report 2005, dated March 2006.

Community policing at shopping centre precincts

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received letters from Dr Foskey, Mr Gentleman, Ms MacDonald, Mr Mulcahy, Ms Porter and Mr Pratt proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with Standing Order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mr Pratt be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The state of community policing at shopping centre precincts in the ACT.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (3.56): Today I have written to the minister about recent incidents in a number of shopping centres, particularly the Red Hill shopping centre, and I want to talk to the Assembly about that issue. Recent incidents at Red Hill shops involving armed assault, robbery and affray and serious break-ins and robberies at the Gartside Street shopping precinct at Erindale have caused me to investigate the situations in these places and the adjacent suburban areas. During my investigation, claims of crime, intimidation and vandalism have been put to me by various residents and shop owners. Today I wish to present these claims, concerns and the general situation in these particular areas to the Assembly and to the government.

The community safety themes addressed here are relevant to shopping centre security in general and apply in varying degrees to many ACT shopping centre precincts around the ACT. At the outset I wish to state that I suspect that, for a variety of reasons, a significant minority of the incidents that I will be referring to today may not have been reported to police. In some cases people are not sure whether the second-hand information they have has resulted in a formal complaint to police. Therefore, in fairness to the police, I stress that we are not concerned that some of these incidents have not been acted upon. In some cases, though, we do know that some of these incidents have not been reported because shopkeepers are saying, “Well, they are at such a low level, I am wasting my time reporting them.”

The Red Hill investigation appears against the background of the continual campaign of the opposition’s shadow minister for housing, Mrs Jacqui Burke, to fix the wide-ranging problems at the Red Hill public housing complex. There is clearly a strong correlation between the situation at the housing complex and crime in the immediate area, specifically the shops. I have door-knocked in the area. I have had meetings with the shop owners. They have all had long-term connections with the development and growth of business in the area and they are all deeply concerned about the deterioration in security.

They all acknowledge that the police responded quickly and professionally to the highly dangerous knife situation on 10 March 2006. It is a good thing that they did. It must be said, though, that, despite repeated police visits to the Red Hill public housing complex to attend to reportedly a range of serious and violent issues, their absence from the Red Hill shops has clearly created a vacuum whereby vandalism, serious property damage, low level crime and intimidation have now escalated to serious and dangerous

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