STATE Opposition Leader Matthew Guy yesterday made an election pledge to permanently place police in Westfield Geelong.
If elected, a Liberal Nationals Government would spend $7.2 million to create Victoria Police shopfronts in a dozen of the state’s biggest and busiest shopping centres.
It is understood officers at the Westfield Geelong police shopfront would patrol the shopping centre, the Market Square shops, bus interchange and Little Malop St mall.
“I will make Victoria safe again,” Mr Guy said. “My government will have a visible police presence engaging with the community and protecting our major shopping hubs.”
But Bellarine state Labor MP and Police Minister Lisa Neville said the Liberals couldn’t be trusted on police promises, after cutting funding and numbers when in government.
“Police are already patrolling in and around shopping centres in Geelong and the mall where locals know that most issues occur,” she said.
“Police monitor CCTV cameras around Geelong to ensure police members are where they need to be to increase safety across the whole city.”
Shadow Police Minister Edward O’Donohue said the Geelong shopping centre was included because of anti-social behaviour in the area.
“We want to see the Geelong CBD thrive and grow, and for that to occur, it’s got to be safe, and people have got to feel it’s safe, that’s why a visible strong police presence is critical,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“One of the things I’m told over and over again is people respect our police, we just don’t see enough of them.”
See the video here: https://www.facebook.com/ODonohueMLC/videos/2036748156572712/
South Barwon state Liberal MP Andrew Katos said officers would act as a deterrent to criminals and reassure the public.
“The mall and the bus interchange have had problems for quite a while now, and I think having this uniform police presence here in the precinct will go a long way towards removing that anti-social behaviour,” he said.
The Liberal Nationals plan to work alongside Victoria Police and shopping centre operators to establish the shopfronts, if elected.
Victoria Police supported shopfront facilities in its 2014 Blue Paper as a way to increase a proactive police presence.
But senior Geelong police later revealed having police available to respond to serious incidents was operationally more beneficial than rostering police to walk through the CBD.
The Liberal Nationals are expected to announce their police resourcing policy closer to the November 2018 election.
Crime Statistics Agency data shows that while crime across Greater Geelong dropped 2.1 per cent in the year to June 2017, crime in the city rose 4.08 per cent.
Geelong Advertiser, March 2nd 2018 – Harrison Tippet & Erin Pearson