During Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearings, the community safety concerns held by frontline Victoria Police officers surrounding the proposed second injecting centre has been revealed.
Under questioning, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton acknowledged the that North Richmond injecting centre has caused an increase in certain offences, including drug related crime, as local residents struggle with ongoing escalations in serious offending and anti-social behaviour.
Furthermore, Chief Commissioner Patton confirmed that additional policing resources for enhanced patrols would need to be directed to any CBD based injecting centre, drawing resources away from other duties and areas across the state.
The revelations follow a submission by The Police Association Victoria that due to the ingrained and unaddressed issues with the Richmond MSIR “the foreseeable and predictable impact of an MSIR in the City of Melbourne will be higher rates of crime and reduction of amenity in the area, impacting traders, residents, tourists, workers, families and our members”.
The Victorian Liberal Nationals support the relocation of the North Richmond Injecting Centre to an appropriate non-residential area and reform of the operational model and licencing arrangements in line with New South Wales.
The Liberal Nationals have also announced a plan to establish mental health services in the CBD, in line with recommendations of the Royal Commission into Mental Health which endorse more adult and youth bed-based mental health and wellbeing facilities, mental health safe places, and other place-based mental health services and supports.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Police and Crime Prevention, David Southwick:
“Under the current structure, a CBD safe injecting room would be a disaster for our city and a permanent setback to our liveability.
“The Andrews Labor Government has their head in the sand over the systemic problems with their injecting centre and its time they listen to the genuine concerns of local residents, police and the broader community.
“It’s clear that if more police are needed with enhanced patrols that a safe injecting centre is not safe for anyone living or working in the CBD.”
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Emma Kealy:
“Despite all their talk of significant mental health investment, the Andrews Labor Government has been slow to enact the mental health reform that Victorians so desperately need.
“It’s time to stop talking about fixing Victoria’s mental health crisis and to actually get on and do it.”