More police to hit the beat, with e-scooter riders put on notice for festive season

More police to hit the beat, with e-scooter riders put on notice for festive season
Brendan Rees

New Victoria Police recruits will be deployed in the CBD and a road safety operation will soon target e-scooters riders among measures to enhance safety and security.

Victoria Police Local Area Commander for Melbourne East and Southbank police service areas Inspector Dale Huntington, who addressed the EastEnders residents’ group meeting on November 21, said December and January would see a road policing operation rolled out in the CBD, with a focus on targeting illegal e-scooter use.

He reiterated that e-scooter riders must adhere to the same blood alcohol content and drug use restrictions as motorists, with officers conducting preliminary breath tests.

“If you think, ‘I’m going to have Christmas drinks, and I’ll grab an e-scooter because I’m too happy to walk the five blocks home’ … please don't do that because you will get caught and lose your driver’s licence straight away,” he said.

Following the e-scooter trial’s extension, e-scooters are permitted on roads with a speed limit of 60km/h or less, up from the 50km/h limit that was in place. They can be ridden on roads, in bicycle lanes, on bicycle paths or separated and shared paths, but will remain illegal on footpaths.

EastEnders president Stan Capp said if the rules for e-scooters could not be enforced then the hire schemes should be abandoned after the trail is due to end in March.

Inspector Huntington said the road operation would be launched as the Victoria Police community sentiment survey acknowledged top safety concerns were safety in public places and road safety.

Inspector Huntington emphasised the importance of a visible police presence and gave his assurances that more police would be deployed to patrol various parts of the CBD during the festive season with Operation Petrichor-Summer starting in early December, which would also include an increase of new police recruits.

“It’s been a long wait but we’re happy they’re coming through now. You will start to see more (recruits) walking the street,” he said, adding “we will task them to high volume pedestrian areas”, with key locations being Swanston St and Bourke St.

Residents at the meeting also raised several concerns about the number of people sleeping rough in the streets, but Inspector Huntington said while it was a challenging task, police were working closely with support services such as the Salvation Army, as well as the City of Melbourne to provide help for individuals experiencing homelessness in the city.

He added 7-Eleven had announced it would spend $1.2 million to provide food to those experiencing homelessness, in a measure aimed at encouraging individuals to seek out services at the Salvos, and not use the stores as an alternative place to appropriate food and safety. 

There were also questions from residents about a recent ban being lifted on venues serving alcohol after 1am. Inspector Huntington said while understood concerns about how this would impact the community, most venues didn't operate past 3am despite having a liquor licence to do so. 

“The city is a vibrant social and entertainment precinct, and a majority of CBD licensees are committed in providing a wonderful and safe experience for residents, tourists and guest of the city,” he said.

“My focus isn’t what time the venue is open or closes, but how it operates and co-exists with its surrounding neighbourhood and businesses.”

Caption: Police will launch an opeation in early December, which will be targeting illegal e-scooter use.

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