SAFETY on the city’s streets after dark has emerged as one of the major concerns for local residents in the region’s first ever community safety plan.
A massive 49 per cent of those people who took part in community surveys as part of the formulation of the Bathurst Region Community Safety Plan 2011-14 indicated they did not feel safe moving around the community at night.
The main reasons given for this included the fear of drug and alcohol affected people; reports in the media of incidents; poor lighting; and too many people wandering the streets.
According to the plan, which is available from council, the contributing factors of alcohol, drugs and people wandering aimlessly through the streets were also identified in the workshops and community focus groups conducted by the Western Research Institute (WRI) during the development of the local crime profile.
Community consultation also highlighted the high levels of frustration in the community, particularly amongst local business owners, about malicious damage incidents that occur under the cover of darkness.
The ensuing damage to property results in costly and time consuming repairs and diminishes the overall image of the area.
Bathurst Liquor Accord president Robert Taylor said that one comment in the survey results really stood out.
“It went along the lines of ... sadly with growth, that sense of community is lost and we have more litter; more graffiti, more anti-social behaviour,” he said.
Mr Taylor said the liquor accord has a role to play in making the plan a success.
“One of the strategies the survey has recommended to be introduced as a result of the plan to reduce and prevent alcohol-related crime includes a special event shuttle bus between licensed premises and camp grounds/taxi ranks to help in dispersing patrons leaving licensed venues,” he said.
“These would be run during special events such as the V8 races and large sporting carnivals and have already proved to be a huge success.
“There are also investigations into running a summer night shuttle bus between the pubs and clubs, restaurants, bottle shops and late night fast food outlets and residential areas after 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Mr Taylor said the prospect of developing a “late night street concierge” program to run during the summer months also had merit.
“It is being recommended that the program would use trained staff to help patrons from licensed premises in the central business district get to various transport options,” he said. “The staff would also contact the emergency services when appropriate and provide first aid when required.
“The program would be implemented simultaneously with the late night summer bus and an awareness campaign to ensure a multi-interventional approach is taken.”
Other measures included in the plan to tackle unruly behaviour on the streets after dark include having security guards on duty at taxi ranks on Friday and Saturday nights and further investigations into the effectiveness of closed circuit television at hot spots in the CBD.
Designated alcohol free zones would also be heavily enforced.