NSW Police will increase measures to combat violence in the Oxford St precinct as the new Regional Commander rebuilds the relationship between local police and the gay and lesbian community it serves.
There will be more visible patrols of the strip, more active policing of problematic venues, and there will be more follow-up with victims of crime.
Regional Commander Catherine Burn made the commitments during negotiations with ACON and the Anti-Violence Project on Tuesday.
What we’re trying to do here is a bit of culture change to increase and enhance confidence in us so people will come forward and report, Burn told SSO.
If a victim reports an assault, they might say at the time they don’t want anything done for whatever reason. We want to give them a call three or four days later to ask -˜how are things going, do you want to reconsider’ -“ because sometimes that pays off.
Surry Hills has one of the highest clear-up rates for assaults. When followed through, we are actually putting them through the courts. But I don’t think we’re selling that message very well.
Burn promised more discussions with the community. Her office is assisting Surry Hills Command to ensure all complaints are dealt with in a timely basis.
Burn is also reviewing the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer program and considering the calls for a full-time GLLO at either Surry Hills or the Regional Command, to focus on homophobic violence.
It’s a big thing, I don’t necessarily think one full-time GLLO is going to solve things. It’s a lot of things we need to look at, she said.
Using a mobile policing station during licensing, drug and community engagement operations was among the strategies suggested during Burn’s initial meeting with the community.
We want to be there as it’s happening and taking some action, Burn said.
Outgoing ACON president Adrian Lovney said there were still many details to work out.
We’re extremely optimistic about issues in Surry Hills following our meeting with Commander Burn. She’s clearly focused on this issue very closely, fixing the problem and ensuring there is a productive relationship, Lovney told SSO.
The AVP have been getting phone calls from people who have made complaints and have subsequently been followed up by the Regional Command to check the service they received and follow up outstanding issues.
We think [Police Minister] David Campbell has been part of this solution, and should be recognised for that. We’re seeing action at the headquarters level, and we’re now for the first time in several years seeing some response at the local level, he said.
But ACON will not be withdrawing the submission to the NSW Ombudsman, because it still sees much work to be done.
We’re interested in the systemic problems. We’re not interested in raking over the coals of what’s happened in the last few years, Lovney said.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore joined ACON in welcoming the renewed commitment to cooperation by NSW Police, and renewed her calls for a rejuvenation of the GLLO program. She will meet with Burn next week.