The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 14:41 :22 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Police questions regarding Woodsons Lane.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: The upgrade to the Festival Theatre and other developments has resulted in the Festival Theatre car park being closed. I understand Festival Theatre patrons are advised that the closest alternative is the Wilsons car park on Hindley Street. Upon exiting the car park complex, patrons can walk along Hindley Street and down Bank Street to access North Terrace. Alternatively, patrons can exit Woodlands Lane to get to North Terrace. I am aware of a number of people who have used Woodson's Lane in recent weeks and have been intimidated by groups who hang out on the street.
Can the minister advise whether he is aware of increased police monitoring of Woodsons Lane, given the increased foot traffic?
Will the minister raise this matter with the police commissioner to ensure the public can safely navigate Woodsons Lane without being harassed or, worse, attacked?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 14:42 :28 ): I thank the honourable member for his questions. I am happy to report to the member and, indeed, the chamber, that not this Saturday evening, but the Saturday evening prior, at approximately one o'clock in the morning, I was walking around Woodsons Lane with SAPOL. I was engaging in an exercise of working with officers on the beat to get a feel and flavour of the challenges that police officers have to deal with in and around Hindley Street. I am glad to report that I was there in an entirely professional capacity.
The Hon. K.J. Maher interjecting:
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS: I won't respond to the Hon. Mr Maher's comment. I have to say, it gave me a very interesting insight into the difficulties that many of our men and women in uniform have to deal with on a regular basis when working long hours in the evenings in and around Hindley Street. As part of that exercise, I actually did take the opportunity to walk down Woodsons Lane with the officers that were accompanying me. On that occasion, I could understand why patrons to the Festival Centre would be reluctant to do that at those early hours of the morning.
Having said that, by and large the behaviour of those patrons and those pedestrians hanging around Hindley Street and Bank Street was good. SAPOL—and this is anecdotal information that was provided to me on the evening—believes that things have improved in and around the area over a sustained period of time. There is already a very heavy SAPOL police presence in and around Hindley Street and Woodsons Lane, as it currently stands—regular foot patrols. Often they are assisted by members of other sections of the police, whether it be people from the liquor licensing enforcement branch or whether it be from the mounted police section, so there is already a substantial police presence around the area.
Bank Street would be a more advisable route for patrons coming and going from the Festival Centre to use by virtue of the fact it is more heavily lit and there are a greater number of people in and around the area. That said, I think this is something we need to continue to monitor as the Festival Plaza development continues before a more long-term solution is put in place. As it stands, I think SAPOL is committed to ensuring the safety of all people who use that precinct in the evenings and during the day as well, and if there is ever any need to review or amend the presence of SAPOL officers around that area, I am sure the police commissioner would undertake to do so.