Safety and crime can have a considerable impact on a community's well being. Anti-social behaviour in general is an ongoing problem in Pittwater which requires a multifaceted approach to reduce the negative impacts on the community.
Creating a safe environment and preventing crime can only be achieved when effective partnerships are formed and the whole community works together. Council has developed both specific and broad strategies to combat the issues associated with anti-social behaviour.
Alcohol Free Zones (AFZs) and Alcohol Prohibited Areas (APAs)
AFZs may be established on a road, Council footpath or public carpark, while APAs can apply to Council parks and reserves.
Council reviewed the AFZs in Pittwater as they were due to expire on 30 September 2009. As part of this review, staff conducted a thorough investigation into both AFZs and APAs in the area in consultation with the community, key business units and the Northern Beaches Local Area Command. On 7 September 2009 Council endorsed the renewal of AFZs with minor modifications at Newport Village, Newport residential area, Avalon Village and Mona Vale Village. It also recommended the possession and consumption of alcohol be prohibited through the establishment of APAs at various major parks and reserves. The current AFZs are effective from 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2013.
In partnership with Northern Beaches Health Promotion and the Northern Beaches Local Area Command, Council staff have developed a community education resource providing information on the location of the various zones throughout Pittwater, as well as the difference between AFZs and APAs. This resource was distributed widely.
When AFZs and APAs are established in appropriate areas and operated with the required level of resources to promote and enforce the zones, they are an effective tool to assist Councils and Police reduce anti-social behaviour.
More information - AFZs and APAs in Pittwater.
The Good Sports Program
At the Council meeting on 1 June 2009 Council resolved to endorse and financially support the rollout of the Good Sports Program in the Pittwater area.
The Good Sports program is a national community health initiative of the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) delivered free to community based sports clubs. A key aim of the program is to model and promote the responsible use of alcohol through reducing unlicensed alcohol sales, drink driving and alcohol related anti-social behaviour on and off the sporting field.
Council encourages all sporting groups to get involved in the Good Sports Program by signing up your club.
More information - Good Sports Program
Liquor Licence Applications Policy
On 1 July 2008 the new Liquor Act 2007 commenced. This legislation aimed to simplify existing licence requirements, provide greater flexibility and reduce red tape, cost and complexity. A new administrative authority called the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority was created to deal with all liquor licence applications and disciplinary matters. Council responded to these changes with the development of a policy on Liquor Licence Applications.
The Policy aims to provide some balance between community concerns regarding the increased availability of alcohol and longer trading hours for licenced venues, and the benefits from a greater diversity of licenced premises in the area. The role that Council plays assists the community to be informed and encourages active participation in issues that may affect people individually or collectively.
Rapid Removal of Graffiti on Council Property
Council staff are made aware of incidents of graffiti through the Councils Customer Service System and they prioritise the re-painting of walls depending on how offensive it is. Currently a combination of day labour and contractors are used to remove graffiti. They attempt to remove graffiti within 24 – 48 hours of notification.
The ‘rapid removal’ approach is implemented so that tags are not visible and do not allow the person conducting the graffiti to gain any status or ‘bragging rights’ about their piece of graffiti.
Changes to graffiti legislation have provided the provision for local Councils to remove graffiti from private property accessible from a public space. Council is committed to a program of systematic inspection and the rapid removal of graffiti from Council owned property and within budget constraints from private property accessible from public domain within Council’s main villages.
There are two schools of thought in regard to the effectiveness of legal graffiti walls. One suggests that the artists using the walls are a separate and different group to others who randomly tag buildings and amenities. The other suggests that the legal graffiti walls in fact attract graffiti and vandalism in the surrounding areas, so it does not matter who is using them. The inarguable fact is that the very existence of legal graffiti walls can make it difficult for the Police to enforce graffiti legislation.
Changes to graffiti legislation have been implemented as a result of the Graffiti Control Act 2008. This Act makes it on offence for a person to have graffiti implement in their possession. In late 2009 Council removed its two legal graffiti walls, previously located at Kitchener Park and Boondah Reserve, in an effort to support the Police with the enforcement of graffiti legislation.
Pittwater Villages Safety Working Party
This group, previously known as the Mona Vale CBD Safety Working Party, is aimed at identifying issues leading to anti-social behaviour and work with key stakeholders to devise strategies to address the identified issues in the major village centres of Mona Vale, Newport and Avalon. It is made up of members including local MP, Police, RTA, STA, Chambers, Council and late night food and liquor suppliers.
Some of the actions that have been implemented as a result of the group include improved street lighting and the removal of shrubbery around identified hot spots, the development of a community education campaign in relation to alcohol free zones, increased ongoing communication between Council and the Police, as well as the provision for Mona Vale specific statistical information being presented by the Police at regular meetings.
CCTV and Lighting Improvements
Significant pedestrian lighting improvements have been made in and around Village Park Mona Vale. In addition, Councils CCTV network has been enhanced with significantly improved abilities to provide information and footage to the Police regarding anti-social behaviour.
The CCTV network currently focuses on providing asset protection to a number of key Council facilities including:-
- Customer Service Centres at Mona Vale and Avalon
- Mona Vale Library
- Mona Vale Memorial Hall
- Avalon Recreation Centre
- Newport Community Centre
- Lakeside Caravan Park
- Coastal Environment Centre
The CCTV network also monitors some general public domain areas, particularly around Village Park Mona Vale. There may be opportunities to extend this public domain surveillance in the future to other parts of Mona Vale, or into other villages such as Newport or Avalon. Currently the Avalon Beach Chamber of Commerce has a CCTV network operating in Avalon village and staff are in discussions with the Chamber about how to make their network more effective.
Council staff continue to look at opportunities to improve pedestrian street lighting and CCTV networks in identified hot spot areas.
For more information on Councils CCTV network please contact Lindsay Godfrey, Manager Community, Library and Economic Development on 9970 1111.
Various community education campaigns have been developed over the years in attempt to provide information to the community about issues of graffiti and vandalism. These initiatives involve Council staff working alongside representatives from the NSW Police and community organisations to share resources, skills and information, as well as formulate strategies to reduce the incidence of graffiti and vandalism. Rewards are also offered to those residents with information that leads to prosecution regarding graffiti in the area.
One of the projects was the development of a ‘Safe Summer’ postcard, in partnership with the NSW Police and Warringah Council. The ‘Safe Summer’ initiative provides some general safety tips for the community for around the home, when visiting the beach and when having parties. It also encourages people to report crime and explains when people should ring 000, their local Police station, the Police Assistance Line or Crime Stoppers. For a copy of the ‘Safe Summer’ postcard see the document links at the bottom of this page.
More recently other community education forums have been run in conjunction with community organisations, for example parent forums. The forums have included topics on safe partying, drug and alcohol use and the use of social media. They have been run at key times of the year including summer, school holidays and around school formal time.
For more information on any of Council’s Community Safety initiatives please contact Pittwater Council's Social, Community & Economic Development Co-ordinator, Melinda Hewitt on 9970 1170.