Police Roundtable

(12pm 25 May 2012, Lord Mayor's Reception Room )

Hello, everyone. Welcome, and thank you for making time in your busy schedules to come here today. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our city.

I'm also pleased to welcome Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas, who's co-chairing this meeting.

There is increasing recognition of the many complex causes of crime and that police departments alone can't deal with responding to crime and also correcting the conditions that contribute to crime.

Clearly, the City and the Police have many issues in common, and I welcome this opportunity for us to share information and look at ways we can work together even more effectively.

Unlike most local government areas, the City of Sydney encompasses seven Local Area Commands, each with their own crime and safety issues. So it makes sense for us to find ways to better co-ordinate our responses to crime and safety in our inner-city communities.

Our LGA covers just over 26 square kilometres, and it's home to almost 180,000 people, about half of whom were born overseas. According to the 2006 Census, almost half of those residents are aged between 18 and 34.

We also know that a further 483,000 people travel into the City on any one day - whether to shop, attend school or university, do business with City firms, or to eat out or be entertained. And that number is in addition to the 385,000-strong City workforce.

So we are talking about over one million people in the area on any given day or night - which suggests that by world standards, Sydney is a very safe city, and that our community can justly have a high level of confidence in the NSW Police.

Over the last decade or so, a combination of quality leadership and commitment to building relationships with local communities has transformed policing in our City.

The regeneration of inner-city neighbourhoods like Redfern owes a great deal to the work done by local police, both as a presence on the streets and as part of their neighbourhood.

Under our Safe City program, we've held regular community days where police join City staff and residents, building bridges of trust that help create safer neighbourhoods.

Police also play an important role, with the City and Housing NSW, in building safer communities in the inner-city housing estates.

The value of this localised policing can't be over-stated, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Commander Mark Murdoch for his dedication, his accessibility, and the wonderful support he has always provided, both to my office and to City staff.

The City also has a terrific Late Night Economy and Safe City Unit, who I know work very closely with you on a number of important initiatives.

These include:

  • landmark events such as New Year's Eve, Sydney Festival First Night and Mardi Gras
  • helping our planners ensure that new and existing developments consider crime and safety risks
  • working together on issues like balancing a lively economy against the negative impacts of anti-social behaviour fuelled by alcohol or drugs
  • working with all stakeholders, including government, industry, drug users and residents, to integrate city responses within other regulatory and health structures
  • holding a series of community events to increase opportunities for people to meet - and these include events like the Good Neighbourhood barbecues, our safety work with international students, our Youth Week events and Family & Culture days on The Block and Waterloo Green.

On a personal note, I'd just like to add that my grandfather, Bill Cullen, was a Sergeant at Darlinghurst. He was one of 11 children from the land in Dubbo, and the only one who left for the Big Smoke. He caught the train to Central, walked to the Redfern Police Academy and joined up. He spent his entire career as a copper - and he was someone I respected very deeply.

In conclusion, I'd like to quote Jan Gehl, the great guru of cities who worked with us on our Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy.

He says that one important measure of a great city is that "it lets vulnerable people feel safe - it is a city for everyone". That's our ambition for Sydney, and I congratulate and thank all of you on the complex and sometimes dangerous work you do in making Sydney - and NSW - the safe and harmonious place it mostly is.

Thank you.