November 24, 2013
Businesses in High Street in Fremantle are divided over the relocation of the city’s police station to the retail and hospitality area.
The police relocated from their historic station in Henderson Street after parts of the building were found to contain asbestos.
Supporters of the relocation say the police presence has helped clean increasingly-upmarket High Street of crime and unsociable behaviour.
However, some retailers are disgruntled by the influx of police cars, with potential customers competing with officers for parking spots.
Like most of the Fremantle CBD, parking on High Street is at a premium, which has not been helped by the allocation of four parking spaces exclusively for police use.
Fremantle resident Pamela Perry said she “used to be able to just inevitably pull in and find a parking spot”.
Ms Perry said apart from shopping at a few stores, she avoided High Street because of the lack of parking.
“I don’t bother anymore,” she said.
“I’ll park around the corner in a 15-minute zone because I know I can come into this shop if I want something specific.
“But I wouldn’t come down this street at all anymore.”
Bousfields Menswear was established on High Street more than 100 years ago. Current owner Bruce Haskell said he did not want to be seen to be “knocking the police”, but that parking was “a little bit of an issue”.
“There haven’t been any real problems having it there,” Mr Haskell said.
“In some ways it’s nice to have the police handy, nice and close, from a business point of view.
“I don’t know if it’s impacted, but [parking] is a bit of a problem – too many car bays taken up.
“It’s not only the police that are impacting on the parking, the council seems to have a policy of taking out car bays and putting in bike racks.”
Mr Haskell said he had noticed more of a police presence on the streets of the city and after speaking to some of the officers in charge at the station he believed the relocation of the station was all part of a return to an old-fashioned style of policing.
“There’s a greater presence but I don’t know if it’s just because the police station’s moved,” he said.
“The drop in crime rate could be associated with the fact that you might have people at the top in Fremantle that believe in getting the blokes back onto the beat.”
General Manager of the Orient Hotel Dawn Mulligan said she hadn’t noticed any issues with parking, but that most of the pub’s customers don’t drive to the establishment.
Ms Mulligan said people had been better behaved knowing the police were only a stone’s throw away.
“Prior to [the relocation] anyone that came into the bar you couldn’t serve, or was intoxicated, if you told them you were cutting them off and they had to leave, they’d hang round,” she said.
“If you mentioned you were going to call the police they’d think ‘well the police are literally the other side of Fremantle, it’ll take them a long time to get there’.
“Now they just leave because they know the police station is right there.”
Ms Mulligan said it would be better if residents and businesses could call the station directly instead of having to go through a switchboard.
“When you call the police you’re not calling the Fremantle police station,” she said.
“If something breaks out, security come in and either hold it down or they get rid of the people, so it happens too fast.
“It’d just be better if you could call the police station directly, but you can’t.”
A representative from the Fremantle police station could not be reached for comment.
Photos: Nick Lovering