Stop the violence: Cops to target Dean St 

ALBURY police believe the use of security guards at late-night food vendors would help stop violence in Dean Street.

Inspector John Wadsworth made the suggestion yesterday as police prepared for Operation Unite, the annual crackdown on alcohol-related crime.

It also comes after two Albury residents were bashed in Dean Street in the past three weeks.

Insp Wadsworth said the problem stemmed from people congregating in the main street after they spilled out from the clubs and bars at closing time.

He said people usually congregated at late-night eateries, such as Sweethearts.

“You’re at your biggest risk when you loiter around,” Insp Wadsworth said.

Insp Wadsworth said a security guard at these venues after midnight could stop violence.

Sweethearts Pizza owner Daryl Betteridge said providing security from midnight was not financially viable for business but he would consider using security at peak times. 

Peak times are Saturday and Sunday mornings from 2.30am to 4am.

“From midnight I think is a little extreme,” Mr Betteridge said.

“It’s not a bad suggestion but it needs a lot of work. I don’t think it would be a negative. It couldn’t make the situation any worse.

“I would be prepared to look at it and sit down and talk to police about it, as long as every food outlet was involved.”

Mr Betteridge has run Sweethearts for 27 years, the longest-trading late-night food venue in Dean Street, and he’s “seen everything you could think of” in terms of incidents.

He said society played a part in minimising violence but it came down to individuals.

“By me providing a dim sim and a cup of coffee, I’m inciting these problems? No, I’m not,” he said.

“We as individuals have to take responsibility for our own actions.”

The station’s liquor licensing supervisor, Sgt Steve McCaig, said security could help but he said it goes further and the community — including food vendors, club owners, police and revellers — needed to unite to stop violence.

“There’s got to be a whole community approach,” Sgt McCaig said.

“It’s not simply a matter of saturating with police, it’s not the solution. There’s more than that. We just want everyone to run a safe premises and look out for each other.”

Sgt McCaig said transport was also an issue with people lining up too long for taxis to get home.

He said these problems would be discussed at the next Albury Liquor Accord in January.

The call for security guards at street dining venues after midnight form part of the police response to the Albury Council’s revised street and outdoor policy.

In it, police are also asking businesses not to provide patrons with glasses after midnight and remove street furniture by 1.30am to stop people congregating.

“It’s definitely not because we want to take away from local businesses, we want to ensure people are safe and we’ll continue to lobby for change,” Insp Wadsworth said.

Operation Unite will target Friday and Saturday night revellers.

Sgt Glenn Stirton will lead police for Operation Unite this Friday and Saturday. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

Sgt Glenn Stirton will lead police for Operation Unite this Friday and Saturday. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL