Local police go “back-to-basics” in new “Neighbourhood Policing” grassroots approach  

Brendan Rees

Local police are going “back-to-basics” to tackle crime and support community safety under a new initiative to be launched in Southbank.

The “Neighbourhood Policing” model will see police work closely with the community in understanding their concerns and addressing local safety issues.

Victoria Police Sergeant Dinah Tremain of East Melbourne Police Station, who will coordinate the initiative across the Melbourne police service area which includes Southbank, said Neighbourhood Policing was “about going back to true grassroots police work.” 

“We’re not just listening to the community but following through on their concerns and tasking police to deal with them,” she said. “We’ll then report back to the community on what has been done.” 

 

The community should be assured we’re listening and will continue to listen. Importantly, we’ll also act and make sure they know when we do.

 

A local safety committee involving police, the City of Melbourne, and local groups has been formed and will meet for the first time in June.    

The committee will help police determine and prioritise what issues are of most concern to residents, businesses, and visitors in the Melbourne police service area.    

Local police stations will keep a register of issues that matter most to their local community, which will then be assigned to officers to address before being reported back to residents of its progress.  

Police will work with partners such as the City of Melbourne, community groups and government agencies when issues are more complex.

Writing in this month’s edition of Southbank News, Southbank Police Station commander Senior Sergeant Alex O’Toole said police will be “listening intently” to the community members and “delivering a response aimed at increasing community safety and involvement with police.”

Local residents’ group Southbank3006 welcomed the initiative saying it was a “great step towards unifying the community and Victoria Police in a common goal.”

“It’s very important for Victoria Police to go back to grass roots, boots on the ground policing strategies and connect with the community to understand the unique needs of individual suburbs,” the group’s deputy president Jannine Pattison said. “Some of the best policing has come from community tips and the best way to involve community is by building strong neighbourhood relationships.”

“Southbank3006 ran a community meet and greet in March and we identified a common community concern regarding safety, security and anti-social behaviour.”

Southbank3006 will be holding a community forum at The Assembly Hall at Boyd Community Hub on May 29 at 2pm to discuss community safety and an opportunity to meet Sgt Tremain.

Southbank Residents’ Association president Tony Penna welcomed the initiative as the “safety of residents has always been a top priority.”

“We look forward to working closely with the team as this new initiative takes shape,” he said.

The City of Melbourne’s city safety, security, and amenity manager Dean Robertson told the EastEnders CBD residents’ group meeting in April that the council was “truly happy to be involved” in the initiative, adding safety was a “huge issue.” 

“It’s about how do we do things differently, and how do we look at a way to try and make sure even the perception of safety is okay,” he said.

“The city is overall pretty good but if you have an experience or if you see something your perception becomes your reality – and that’s the stuff we need to deal with, so we’re working on that.” 

Mr Roberston said the council had begun engaging with the community with international students being among the first to provide their thoughts on safety. 

“We interviewed 20 students … they were reporting to us when they go out, they really think about where they’re going to go, what they’re going to do, what time they will be home and ‘should I be home?’” 

He said some of the feedback included international students wanting to carry an umbrella as “a means for defence”, which council was not advocating “but that’s some of the things we’ve heard”.

Assistant Commissioner Tim Hansen said Neighbourhood Policing, which was being rolled out across the state, was about ensuring Victoria Police “get the basics of police work right to prevent and deter crime.”

Victoria Police has launched an online community sentiment survey to hear what issues are of importance, how they want to engage with police and how comfortable they feel approaching police and PSOs •

For more information: engage.vic.gov.au/annual-vicpol-community-sentiment-survey-2022

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