23/10/2015 - 13:49

Freo council cracks down on louts, scammers

23/10/2015 - 13:49

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Complaints about anti-social behaviour in Fremantle have prompted the council to enact a zero-tolerance strategy that will include more police patrols, better lighting and a crackdown on begging.

Freo council cracks down on louts, scammers
Fremantle's "cappuccino strip" the main street for dining and entertainment.

Complaints about anti-social behaviour in Fremantle have prompted the council to enact a zero-tolerance strategy that will include more police patrols, better lighting, and a crackdown on begging.

City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said residents and business owners had made it clear a small number of people “acting badly” in the port town were making people feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Mr Pettitt said a major part of the approach, which has been created in partnership with WA Police and with stakeholder input, was directed at stamping out begging.

Spare change collections points will be placed around Fremantle’s main streets, with all funds given to local welfare agencies to help homeless people.

It’s anticipated this indirect approach will also help drive out opportunistic beggars, who Mr Pettitt said sometimes aggressively pursued donations.

He told Business News the council had learned many people were earning up to $200 a session begging, with some involved in “an organised begging scam”.  

“Our research, and that of local police, indicates a large proportion of beggars in Fremantle are in fact not homeless and these people have been taking advantage of people’s generosity,” Mr Pettitt said.

He said he preferred funds given went to agencies such as Fremantle-based homeless support centre St Patrick’s.

St Patrick's Community Support Centre was approached for comment but was not able to respond before deadline.

Under the new plan, a CBD safety and liaison officer will be employed to patrol the city centre seven days a week, better lighting will be installed, and signs will be erected announcing zero-tolerance towards public drinking, begging and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Pettitt said there would also be increased police patrols carried out by undercover and uniformed officers.

Extending and upgrading the quality of the council’s closed circuit television network will also be investigated.

“I make no apologies for the city taking a firmer approach to these issues,” Mr Pettitt said.

“We’re drawing a line in the sand about what’s acceptable behaviour in Fremantle.”

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