Horsham Skate Park safety worries police, parents: drug, alcohol, assault concerns

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Gary Bird, Tyler Umbers and Michael Ryan open the Horsham Skate Park in September 2010. Picture: KATE HEALY

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Gary Bird, Tyler Umbers and Michael Ryan open the Horsham Skate Park in September 2010. Picture: KATE HEALY

HORSHAM parents and police have urged Horsham Rural City Council to ramp up security at Horsham Skate Park after a string of assaults in the area.

Senior Constable Les Power said police were often called to incidents at the park.

"The things I am hearing from the kids who use it are that there are suspected drug dealings and alcohol swapping, which is scary," he said.

Sen Const Power said if the trend continued it would soon become a nightmare for police.

"We get children there aged six to 10 and some older ones, but there are also some adults going there," he said.

"I have no problem with adults being there, but we have dealt with adults who were alcohol-affected and I don't see that as a good thing for the skate park."

Sen Const Power said the park had also become a dumping ground for rubbish.

"People with bottles and glass dump them in the area at night," he said.

"If a child comes along unsuspecting the next day, it could be horrific," he said.

A Horsham mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said her 14-year-old son had been assaulted twice in the past fortnight.

"He rides a scooter and goes to the park fairly frequently," she said.

"He really enjoys the social aspect of it and seeing his friends."

"It makes me angry. Extremely angry. He is scared to go down the street now and thinks he can't go back to the skate park."

The mother said in the past two weeks her son had been punched in the face twice, once by a 12-year-old boy and once by a 17-year-old boy.

"The 12-year-old has been picking fights with my son on a regular basis," she said.

She said many adults in their early 20s had also been at the skate park and had threatened her son.

"It makes me angry. Extremely angry," she said.

"He is scared to go down the street now and thinks he can't go back to the skate park."

The mother said other parents were also concerned, especially about the young adults who loitered at the park.

"There are rumours of drugs and drinking," she said.

"There are bad things happening there.

"It makes you wonder what is happening to Horsham. Our children aren't safe anymore."

The mother said the skate park was a great place for children to play, but at the moment they weren't safe.

"Something needs to be done," she said.

Sen Const Power said the woman reported the assault to police on Wednesday.

He said security cameras would help the situation. 

"It would give us an opportunity to better pursue crime," he said.

"It is a busy intersection and proper cameras could survey the whole park, and also up Natimuk Road and Wilson Street, to get a better coverage for everyone in relation to road traffic control. 

"We already have camera security at May Park, which is fantastic, and Firebrace and Wilson streets."

He said council needed to take the initiative to look after young people.

"I want a councillor to step up and say they are on top of this," Sen Const Power said.

"I don't know how much it would cost, but we need to enhance security." 

Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Peter Brown said security cameras were previously installed in the city after consultation with police and the community.

"The police had the opportunity to have input two years ago when we were deciding locations," he said.

"We do have an open mind about more cameras in the future but they are very expensive to monitor and replace, so we need to be sure they are providing good value to the community."

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