Police back Kings Cross guards who are helping in fight against crime
THE NSW Police Force has thrown its weight behind the powerful Kings Cross nightclub lobby’s plans to tackle drunkenness and violence on the Golden Mile, including a controversial team of private security guards and a CCTV van capturing footage of revellers on the streets.
The Kings Cross police commander, Superintendent Sue Waites, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with nightclub owners, their security guards and the city council on Saturday night as they patrolled Kings Cross streets.
As Halloween revellers stumbled drunkenly around them in the early hours of Sunday morning, a bespectacled Superintendent Waites noted the need for more bins as she gazed on streets littered with discarded kebab wrappers.
The who’s who of Kings Cross powerbrokers – including the council’s late night economy manager, Suzie Matthews, the chief of the revamped local liquor accord, Doug Grand, and the head of the local private security force, Nic Constantin – made an unlikely team as they walked neon-lit streets plagued each weekend by violent assaults and drunken brawls.
But the police force has finally given its public stamp of approval to the nightclubs’ ”rapid response” security guards, funded by an alliance led by Christopher Cheung’s C-Inc, Keystone Hospitality, and John Ibrahim and his associates.
”We’ve had no issues with any guards being assaulted and no complaints about them,” Superintendent Waites said yesterday after three hours on the beat with the guards, who have been operating in Kings Cross since April last year.
”They also assist us if there are violent [altercations],” she said. ”They’ve helped us with crime scene preservation. We’ve had no issues with them.”
The police force has previously been coy about publicly supporting the work of Special Protection Services’ private security detail, run by Mr Constantin, a reformed armed robber.
The City of Sydney said legislation needed to catch up with the rapid evolution of the security industry.
"We’re going to see a lot more of this kind of thing in Australia,” Ms Matthews said. ”What we really need are clear guidelines around mobile security practices.
”We would like to see more CCTV cameras permanently in Kings Cross and that’s because it’s the area with the highest level of problems [but] we would want better caveats and guidelines so that people are aware that they are being monitored … I don’t think we have the appropriate privacy protections as yet.”
The council wants to install more of its own fixed CCTV cameras, to treat Kings Cross as a ”special event” area each weekend, and address transport shortages through a district master plan.
Almost 6000 people pass through a small stretch of Bayswater Road between 1am and 2am each Sunday in a tiny section of Sydney that houses more than 67 licensed venues, almost half of which are entitled to sell alcohol 24 hours a day at least one day a week.
Superintendent Waites said that on Saturday night a drug dog detected illicit substances on 17 people, six of whom were charged with possession of cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy. A woman with two small children in her car was charged with drink driving, and 15 taxi drivers were issued with infringement notices for refusing to take passengers.