Southbank Police Station to reduce reception hours amid residents’ crime concerns
Victoria Police will temporarily reduce the reception hours at Southbank Police Station in the coming months with resources to be redirected towards conducting community patrols.
Southbank will be one of 43 police stations across the state to be affected as the force insisted such a reduction “gives police the best opportunity to respond to urgent incidents, prevent crime before it can occur, and engage with large sections of the community”.
“When a station reception counter is closed, police will always be patrolling the local community and in many cases, still working from within the station,” Victoria Police said.
The reduced opening hours will occur mainly at night when station counters are rarely attended by the public.
South Melbourne Police Station will also have its reception hours slashed towards the end of November with the community to be notified of the exact date.
Southbank Police Station will be among further stations earmarked for reduced counter hours “in the coming months”.
When the closure does occur, both Southbank and South Melbourne police stations will only keep their receptions open for eight hours a day. This would remain in place while the force continued to recruit to fill current vacancies.
“Make no mistake – Victoria Police is not closing any police stations,” Deputy Commissioner Regional Operations Neil Paterson said.
“Even when reception counters are unstaffed, police continue to patrol the local community and often, still work within the station.”
Liberal Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region Evan Mulholland said reducing reception hours was a “slap in the face to locals who are ever-increasingly worried about their safety in our community”.
“This tired old Labor Government have failed to address issues in staffing police stations, and now locals are paying the price with risks to local safety,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Police Brad Battin said the government had assured Victorians there were no issues with police staffing, “yet now we see cuts to key frontline services” which would “result in poorer community safety outcomes”.
“This is typical of the chaos under the Allan Labor Government which must explain why these cuts have occurred and when full policing services will be returned,” he said.
The announcement follows concerns of crime in Miles St, Southbank. Numerous vehicles have been broken into, with the situation further aggravated by the occurrence of loud noises at night, residents and business owners said.
One resident, who has had their car broken into a “million times” even though they kept no valuables inside, said they were “100 per cent” concerned, saying criminal activity and the number of people loitering have “gone gang busters”.
In one incident in late October, a business owner in Miles St, said he caught a trespasser jumping on top of his roof.
“He climbed down one side of the building, I tried to approach, and he began shouting. I did nothing,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
While the man was caught by police, the business owner said, “It’s worrying for me because I could’ve got stabbed according to the cops … they hinted he might have had a weapon.”
“We see all these private security firms driving around the area, but what they actually do, I wonder,” they said. “The main reason I’m sharing this is so that more people can come forward and we can take action.”
A victim of a daytime burglary in late August said they were devastated after thieves made off with multiple items including his grandfather’s 120-year-old fob watch.
“It [Southbank] used to be a good area but now I’m not so sure. I do notice the police do drive-bys every now and again, but you ring them, and they take forever to turn up,” the resident said, also asking to remain anonymous.
They said the burglary happened at around 2pm after CCTV footage captured four people getting out of a Toyota Camry. They also came back later in the night and allegedly stole his car, which was recovered within a week in Ashburton. Other items stolen from their home included passports, a safe, a coin collection, bluetooth speakers, spare keys, a laptop, sunglasses, and clothing.
Southbank police commander Senior Sergeant Alex O’Toole gave assurances that patrols were conducted “where the crime is occurring”.
“The patrol areas are updated weekly to ensure that we provide a proactive policing service to the community of Southbank.” •