Messy coast: Vandalism in Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove’s public spaces continues

March 4, 2021 BY

The committee of management is responsible for the coastal Crown land near Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. Photo: BARWON COAST

VANDALISM continues to be an issue in public spaces in Barwon Heads, and Barwon Coast is urging people to contact police if they see or hear anything about the problem.

In early December, this newspaper reported the Flinders Parade waterfront playground area had been vandalised several times over previous weeks, which led the committee of management for the area’s coastal Crown land to ask people to report suspicious gatherings of people to police.

At the time, Barwon Coast chief executive officer Gary McPike said the gatherings had resulted in damage to toilet facilities, such as doors and mirrors being smashed, extensive graffiti and significant amounts of rubbish left in the area, including large amounts of broken glass

“This is a significant issue being adjacent to a playground,” he said.

“Barwon Coast staff and resources are having to be diverted from other critical work to clean up the huge amount of rubbish and damage created at these gatherings.

“We, and local residents, are fed up with this repeated unsocial and dangerous activity. It needs to stop.”

The problem has not gone away over the past two months and with the end of the peak summer season, however, with last week’s update from Barwon Coast in this newspaper stating vandalism of public spaces – including toilets, barbecues and playgrounds – continues to be a large issue on the Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads coast.

Barwon Coast is again asking people to report anything of concern they learn about groups of people causing damage on the coast promptly to Victoria Police on Triple Zero (000), and also note down the registrations of any cars involved.

The City of Greater Geelong has received 800 reports of graffiti across the municipality through the Victorian Graffiti Register (VIVGR) mobile app and website since it launched in September.

Police have also been unable to confirm or provide details about a reported recent spike in crime in Barwon Heads.

In an email sent last month to Police and Emergency Services Minister and Bellarine MP Lisa Neville and other local, state and federal representatives, a Barwon Heads resident claimed there had been a “steady and alarming increase in crime and negative impact behaviour” in their town in the past months, including theft, vandalism, speeding, excessive noise, drunkenness, drug use, underage drinking, large uncontrolled gatherings and violent and aggressive behaviour.

In her reply, which was forwarded to all recipients of the first email, Ms Neville’s spokesperson said the minister was having “ongoing conversations with the local police”.

“Many members of the community share your concerns, and Lisa will continue to follow this current issue very closely,” the spokesperson said.

In her reply to all the recipients of that email, Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said she had seen no evidence of increased police patrols in Barwon Heads.

“In my view, there needs to be a strong police presence in Barwon Heads throughout the summer – the criminal acts which are incurring in our town are incredibly serious,” Ms Henderson said.

This newspaper’s inquiries to the Ocean Grove police station were directed to the Geelong Divisional Investigation Unit, which referred inquiries to the Crime Statistics Agency Victoria website, which only has statistics for the City of Greater Geelong (which includes Barwon Heads) to the year ending September 2020.

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