Safe City Police Briefing

(2pm, Thursday 6 June 2013, Sydney Town Hall Red Conference Room)

Hello, everyone. Welcome, and thank you all for making the time to come here today. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

And a special welcome to Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch.

Jo Kelly is our facilitator and staff from our Safe City Unit are here to brief you on various initiatives we're undertaking, and some of the problems we're having.

The Unit's task is to devise and deliver programs, policies and services that will help make the city a safer and livelier place for all our residents, our workers, visitors and businesses, even as the City becomes more densely populated.

Last weekend's violent incidents on George Street are a reminder that the work we're doing together to make our streets safer is absolutely vital.

The concentration of very late trading licensed premises is a problem in parts of the City. It generates a series of cumulative impacts that spill out into the public domain: anti-social behaviour, assaults, littering and public urination.

We all agree that late night violence, often fuelled by alcohol and drug use, remains too common in Sydney. But while more work needs to be done, real progress is being made.

There are all sorts of ways the City can reduce crime risks and - importantly - increase the perception of safety, ranging from CCTV and lighting, upgrading our parks and public spaces, activating laneways, introducing alcohol free zones and programs for sharps management in our public spaces.

There are also safety programs we run for international students, Good Neighbourhood barbecues, precinct ambassadors and support for White Ribbon Day to address domestic violence.

But we can't make any real headway in reducing crime and public disorder, or even increase people's feelings of safety and belonging, without working closely with you.

Over the last year, we've worked together on initiatives which have included:

  • 15 Good Neighbourhood barbecues
  • 28 quarterly Community Safety meetings for each of the seven Area Commands
  • Attendance at various Resident Action groups across the LGA
  • Complex social issues such as those arising from public housing estates
  • Regular public space safety audits, including in public housing lands
  • White Ribbon Day and
  • The introduction of alcohol-free zones

More recently, together with Police we hosted the International Student Safety program, held at Customs House on April 24. Our Safe City team worked very closely with police on a range of presentations that introduced students and their advisors to police emergency procedures and surf, bike and personal safety.

We took feedback from the students and I'm happy to report that over 90 per cent found the Police presentation useful, or very useful.

One student said the workshop was "spectacular". "I didn't expect to receive such really useful tips and support. It was really constructive, especially the modelling of calling triple-O and self-defence practice. It was practical and it definitely boosts confidence."

With over 35,000 international students in Sydney, this is an important step forward, I think.

We've also been working with police to update the protocol on Crime Prevent through Environment Design. We want to be able to work more effectively with you on DA referrals and on alcohol restrictions in the LGA.

The very good news is that the latest figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistic for the LGA show that the major crime categories are tending downwards. Robbery in particular has come down sharply but the assault rate is slowest to show a drop.

Fraud has increased in our LGA by almost 30 per cent in the last 12 months. The Bureau suggests it involved mainly business or commercial premises, especially service stations and supermarket service stations.

This may be one area where we can work more closely with you to investigate and address the problem.

Once again, thank you all for coming here today. We really value our partnership with you and we're keen to make it as effective as possible.