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Crime stats highlight station hotspots

Booking officeAnalysis of 2009 crime statistics by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has shown that 45% of assaults on railway stations occur at just ten locations. The figures also showed about half the assaults occurred in the daytime.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen said that the figures reinforced the association’s call for all stations to be staffed from first to last train, and with a permanent police presence at the top ten hotspot stations.

The PTUA also wants a review of communications and emergency response times to ensure that station staff can quickly get police or ambulance assistance when required. Police deployment should include a mechanism for radio contact between patrolling police officers and station booking office staff, and be regularly reviewed to ensure chosen locations remain appropriate, with possible expansion if required.

“While people are most concerned about safety on the train system at night, the reality is that about half the assaults happened in broad daylight”, said Mr Bowen.

“And just ten stations accounted for 45% of the incidents reported.

“All together 85 stations had recorded incidents of assault, but 116 had none.”

The crime reports were obtained by The Sunday Age under Freedom of Information and analysed by the PTUA. They showed that 45% of assaults occurred at just ten stations: Flinders St, Dandenong, Broadmeadows, Footscray, St Albans, Ringwood, Bayswater, Frankston, Southern Cross, and Thomastown.

The figures also showed that 52% of incidents occurred between 6pm and 3:30am, while 48% occurred outside those hours.

Mr Bowen said that the Opposition’s plan for Protective Service Officers at all stations after 6pm would be a step forward, but it would not fully address the problem.

“The Opposition are to be commended for getting this issue on the agenda. But with half of assaults happening before the PSOs would go on duty, it’s clear a fulltime staff presence is needed. And with most stations having no reported assaults at all in 2009, the danger would be that many officers would be standing around doing nothing, night after night, while they are needed at the busier stations.

“And security officers couldn’t help with customer service, including travel advice and assistance with ticket machines. Only Metro staff can do that.”

Mr Bowen also noted that given a number of new stations to be constructed around Melbourne, new and refurbished stations should be planned using the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. “Station design can help deter crime by ensuring all areas are in constant view of staff and passers-by.

“But in the short term, let’s get staff back onto every station, and police at the hotspots.

“It’s time for real solutions to concerns over security, and customer service on our railway stations”, concluded Mr Bowen.

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52% of assaults occurred between 6pm and 3:30am. 48% occurred at other times (eg during daylight hours).

45% of assaults occurred at the following ten stations: Flinders St (35), Dandenong (25), Broadmeadows (21), Footscray (20), St Albans (17), Ringwood (13), Bayswater (11), Frankston (11), Southern Cross (9), and Thomastown (9).

At a number of stations, more assaults occurred during the day than after 6pm. These stations included: Flinders Street (22 day, 13 night), Broadmeadows (15 day, 6 night), Box Hill (5 day, 1 night), Richmond (5 day, 1 night), Melbourne Central (5 day, 1 night).

There are 201 stations on the Metro network. The figures record 385 assaults at 85 stations. The other 116 stations had no assaults reported during 2009. (These figures exclude the Stony Point line.)

Current staffing (excluding Stony Point line): Fulltime staff (Premium) 77; Peak hour only (Host) 26; No staff 98.

Expected staffing after currently funded upgrades are complete: Fulltime 97; Peak hour only 39; No staff 65.