BAYSWATER residents living near Halliday Park say they have had to adopt a ‘siege mentality’ thanks to what they perceive as an unprecedented rise in anti-social behaviour around the park.
They believe the rise may have been caused by a police operation designed to move-on children and teenagers from Burswood and Lathlain train stations, with Police Commissioner Karl O’Callahan admitting there had been a “displacement” of at-risk teenagers to Bayswater.
Operation Safe Place, which ran from December 2011 to February 2012, was designed to take at-risk, predominantly indigenous children found at Lathlain and Burswood train stations and place them in safe hands.
Police declared the operation a huge success, with 437 children moved to a safe place in the three months of the trial program.
But Bayswater residents living near Halliday Park have said that since Operation Safe Place, problems that have long existed at Halliday Park have been getting worse.
“It’s like being under siege from Thursday night right through to Monday,” said Rose Avenue resident Linda Bullow, who has lived in the cul-de-sac since 1972.
“These problems have been going on for a while, and I guess we have been putting up with a bit of trouble in the park on Thursday nights for a while, but it has never been as bad as it is right now.
“They’re coming from the train line, and the bus line, and drinking in the park all night. Eventually the fighting and the screaming starts, the smashed bottles, and the break-ins.
“Two weeks ago, my husband went out to the car and found a teenager, a boy really, sleeping it off in the front seat of the car.
“In January, we’d just gone to bed when someone walked past our bedroom door. Our room is at the front of the house so he had to get past us to get back out… he was more scared than anything, but we forget to lock our door one time, and someone’s in the house instantly.
“All my neighbours have been broken into… it’s only getting worse, it’s becoming an absolute struggle to deal with every weekend.”
Mrs Bullow said that regular calls to police did nothing to change the situation, and that City of Bayswater rangers and police had both downplayed the trouble.
“When the screaming and the fighting become too much, we call the police, and they ask us to go out and see how many people are there,” she said.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m not opening the gate.
“We need better lighting and better security in the park. We’ve been lobbying the City of Bayswater to get more stuff done but as yet, we haven’t had much success.
“We speak to the councillors and they tell us that the rangers and the police say it’s under control. It’s not.”
Maylands MLA Lisa Baker questioned senior police, including West Metropolitan Superintendent Nigel White, Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan and Assistant Commissioner Stephen Brown, over the increase in burglaries and alcohol-related incidents at a community crime forum two weeks ago.
Mr Brown confirmed the pressure applied by police had led to the children going to Bayswater.
“We applied so much pressure around Operation Safe Place in the likes of Lathlain and Burswood,” he said at the meeting.
“These kids were using the train line, they told us that, to go (to) Bayswater.”
Ms Baker said what she had been told by City rangers was markedly different from what she had been told by police.
“Rangers aren’t trained to break up brawls, they’re not equipped to go into these situations, so they ring the police,” she said.
“The police have only recorded eight callouts to Halliday Park since Christmas.
“The rangers are telling me a very different story, of 10 to 15 calls a day from residents, and they’re (then) calling and reporting those to police.
“Clearly there’s a breakdown in communication somewhere.”
A police spokeswoman said there had been no reports of anti-social behaviour in Halliday Park in the first two months of 2011 or 2012.
The City of Bayswater was unable to respond to Eastern Reporter queries before print, however a spokeswoman confirmed they did not keep statistics on the number of complaints from local residents.