FRANKSTON police said Wednesday they would be upping their profile in works-besieged Young St and in surrounding streets and lanes.
Station Commander Senior Sergeant Michael Lamb said increased foot patrols would “focus their attention” on the precinct where trade has been hit by the protracted road works.
He was speaking after about 50 “angry and disappointed” traders met two weeks ago at Lucky’s Deli in Young St to discuss the effects of crime and a perceived lack of safety.
“Communication between the police and traders had not been good; it was a crucial issue,” said Cr Steve Toms, who organised the meeting.
Senior Sergeant Lamb said: “It was clear to me from our meeting that we need to refocus our efforts to the area.
“Young St is basically a construction zone, with traders telling us their businesses are struggling and they are under a lot of pressure.
“With the removal of the public toilet in Young St an undesirable element were using the back lanes and alcoves behind their businesses as a toilet and an area to deal and use drugs. As a result the traders felt unsafe.”
The extra foot patrols and resources aim to reassure the traders. “A big part of the task for our foot patrol crews is to ensure they engage with the traders each day, so they know we are out and about and their feeling of safety is improved during these trying times,” Senior Sergeant Lamb said.
“As the officer-in-charge of the Frankston Police Station I cannot positivity influence the time lines of the Young St redevelopment, but I can help reassure the traders and shoppers and improve their level of safety.”
He said the results for two weeks in Young St had been “encouraging” with 10 arrests for public order offences, theft and warrants of apprehension, and 30 penalty notices for breach of council bylaws.
“Importantly, the feedback from the traders has been excellent; they tell me seeing the added police presence has really helped them feel safer in their businesses.”
Senior Sergeant Lamb said the focus on Young St and engagement with the traders would remain at present levels until the street’s redevelopment was finished – possibly late October. A review would then be done “moving forward”.
Lucky Ferraro, of Lucky’s Deli, said traders supported efforts to boost the police presence in the precinct, and to focus on curbing the methadone trade. He said they would push for compensation for the loss of trade.
VicRoads blames delays in the works on water and electricity services being unearthed unexpectedly during excavations. This has required moving utility services and, in some instances, changing original designs.