Armadale is a lower socio-economic area in the South-East of Perth with an unwarranted bad name due to persistent high crime rates. It’s also my home town and we really need a 24 hour, 7 day a week walk-in police station.
I’ve lived here (or in the surrounding suburbs) for more than 22 years now, since I was a 4 year old. Growing up in the area necessitated learning some street smarts, but was hardly a hostile environment for this privileged white kid to grow up in. I did OK. My brother and sister did too.
Unfortunately the quality and quantity of facilities for youths has not progressed since I was a kid, and nor have the local policing services. No offence meant to the hard-working local police with whom I have had many positive experiences. It’s not their fault they are under-resourced.
Solving Armadale’s various crime problems can only be achieved by strengthening the relationship between community members and local police. Comments by local resident Cathy North in WA Today are reflective of this view, as are repeated public statements on this issue by the Member of Parliament for Armadale, Tony Buti.
Armadale has needed a 24 hour, walk-in police station and a significantly larger permanent local police force for at least a decade now. It’s not all about the excessively high response times and unavailable reporting services either.
An active 24 hour presence will go a long way to making locals feel the police and state government actually care about our area. It will also provide a major confidence boost for local businesses wishing to stay open in the town centre after dark. Small businesses, especially restaurants and cafe’s will benefit greatly as locals regain confidence to spend time in the town centre at night.
For maximum effect the location of the 24/7 station be within line-of-sight of the Armadale train station, should be tall and well lit. There are a few possible locations just west of the train-line, particularly the location of the old fire station. We’ve got a beautiful town with beautiful park lands we would all like to use, especially in summer. We need a visible, friendly and local police presence to make these places safe.
Local police who will get to know how to deal with the local drunk who sits in the park and is generally harmless. Or the local kids who keep getting up to no good, whose families have often neglected them or worse. Dealing with such cases takes a tact and understanding which only comes with local familiarity. As does dealing with the local Indigenous population for who living conditions are often dire.
We are one of Western Australia’s oldest European settled communities, established at Goolamrup (Kelmscott) in 1830. For thousands of years prior the local area provided water, food and home for countless generations of Nyoongah families. Since the first days of white settlement the local area has played a key role in agriculture, transport and light industry. We are still the central hub for services provision to dozens of remote communities including Byford, Jarrahdale, Mundijong, Serpentine and Boddington.
Armadale train station is the closest public transport hub for more than 100,000 people, but we don’t feel safe using it at night due to repeated violent assaults in the surrounding area. The station itself is certainly much safer now than it was when I was a kid. But what use is a safe train station when people are getting attacked and cars broken into just across the road? Regular walking patrols based out of a police station overlooking the train station would very quickly put a stop to most of these assaults, if not the car break-ins also.
The other urgent suggestion is the re-invigorating of youth services in the local area. Armadale Youth Resources do the best they can with what they have, but aside from the Armadale Youth Centre and AYR supported events, there are few resources to entertain teenagers and young adults in the local area. Sports clubs are a notable exception, though almost all the locally hosted basketball competitions I participated in as a teen have ceased to function in the last 10 years.
Even the school ovals and basketball courts we used to go play at over the weekends are now mostly fenced off. The local rivers we caught yabbies in all but dried up. The bushland has been replaced with boring housing establishments and many of those new houses have missed out on the large back-yards in which we entertained ourselves growing up.
It’s little wonder the crime rate is going up. The population continues to rise rapidly while community resources stay the same or even degrade. How are kids with no money expected to find entertainment when the only new facilities are shopping centres?
The population of Armadale and surrounding areas has increased by more than 40% since 1990. Meanwhile the local police station has not grown in proportion and still remains closed-to-the-public from 4pm each day and over the entire weekend, every week. Equivalent locations across Perth such as Midland, Joondalup and Fremantle all have 24 hour counter service at their police stations, we deserve no less.
The Police Commissioner Carl O’Kallahan’s response of launching a “6 month intensive campaign” will do nothing to ease the long-term community issues currently coming to a boil in Armadale. It is expensive and will only lead to more local youth’s being diverted in to the prison system, while long-term crime rates continue to rise. There will be little to no positive impact for the local community and small business owners will not experience an increase in foot traffic.
What we really need is to permanently strengthen local community services – and a 6 month police campaign does nothing to achieve that.