Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has renewed his calls for the establishment of a Police Beat at a shopping centre on the south side of Cairns.

Mr Pitt said that just prior to the state election he had been in talks with Queensland Police and the owners of Mount Sheridan Plaza to include a Police Beat office in the redeveloped centre.

“I have written to new Police Minister Jack Dempsey urging the LNP government to continue to explore this option as a matter of urgency, Mr Pitt said.

“I have strong support from the centre and there is an emerging need at the centre that has been acknowledged locally by the Queensland Police Service.

“Current demographics for the southern corridor indicate 32 percent of the population is aged under 18 years.

“The redeveloped shopping centre with a food court which will triple in size will obviously become a congregating point for the local youth, hence the need for an on site police presence.

“The existing Police Beat Residence across the highway at White Rock has made a noticeable difference in the local area, and if relocated to the shopping centre can address the expected increase in youth numbers.

“There is the strong chance that there will be an increase in property crime both inside the centre and in surrounding streets because of the large number of youths that will be basing themselves at the shopping centre.

“It’s likely these youths will be walking or riding bicycles to and from the shopping centre and this will also be likely to increase other offences in the surrounding streets of the centre.

“I am aware that both bottle shops inside Mount Sheridan Plaza and at the nearby Rock Tavern have been victim to a large number of break ins, stealing and robbery offences. Also the majority of offences that I’m aware of in the Mount Sheridan and White Rock areas are by juvenile offenders.

“The benefits of establishing a Police Beat Shop Front at Mount Sheridan Plaza would allow highly visible and accessible policing in the redeveloped centre will be a very effective strategy for tackling youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

“The construction of the new Edmonton Leisure Centre at Walker Road and other programs being run by non-government organisations like Rock Impact, Mission Australia and Streets Movement Boxing will also continue to assist in crime reduction by providing more options for our young people.”

Mr Pitt said the Police Beat initiative is a very effective strategy for tackling youth crime and antisocial behaviour in and around shopping precincts.

“Police Beat Shop Fronts have been operating in Queensland for 20 years now.

“There are currently 46 Police Beat Shop Fronts in Queensland and a further 58 Neighbourhood Police Beats located around the state.

Division three councillor Rob Pyne backed Mr Pitt saying residents of his Division had raised the matter on a number of occasions.

“It is not a political issue, it is a real grass roots community issue and I hope the state government can see that on this occasion,” Mr Pyne said.

“The Mount Sheridan Neighbourhood Watch was particularly keen to see this Police Beat as part of the redeveloped Mt Sheridan Plaza.”