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Fremantle awash with thugs
The West Australian Shuwan Taher, owner of Ali Baba and 40 dishes cafe in South Terrace, Fremantle. Picture: Astrid Volzke

Soaring levels of drunken violence in Fremantle have prompted calls for a mobile police station to be set up in the city's entertainment area on weekends.

Police statistics show that non-domestic assaults in Fremantle have increased 14 per cent this financial year, while violence at or near licensed venues has risen by 56 per cent.

The spike in assaults has frustrated local businesses which, along with the City of Fremantle and the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, have demanded an increased police presence in the city's CBD at night.

South metropolitan district Supt. John Lindley said there had been 292 non-domestic assaults to June 26 this financial year, compared with 257 for the same period the previous year.

Assaults at or near licensed venues had risen from 61 to 95 over the same period.

He said police had implemented a range of tactics to try to stem the rising violence, including increasing the number of officers on patrols late on Friday and Saturday nights in Fremantle.

Street chaplains were used in the area on weekend nights and inspectors and senior sergeants routinely worked alongside less experienced colleagues.

Also, licensing enforcement officers closely monitored the management of pubs and clubs.

"Our police do a great job on the entertainment strip," Supt. Lindley said.

"What is difficult to control is the nature of the people attending the CBD.

"Some may be drug and alcohol affected without overtly showing signs of such intoxication. Some may have mental health issues and others domestic issues which give rise to a lack of self-control."

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettit praised the work police had done but he believed there was a need for more officers in the city at night, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays.

He said the council had already hired private security guards to conduct daytime patrols.

It was now considering security upgrades to local taxi ranks and the introduction of portaloos in the CBD on weekends to counter the problem of people urinating in public.

WA Taxi Council chief executive Olwyn Williams said the City of Fremantle needed to increase the number, profile and security of its taxi ranks to attract a greater number of taxis to the city.

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tim Milson said it wanted to see more police foot and bicycle patrols.

It also believed the two-man private security patrol paid for by the council should be extended late into the night, instead of finishing in the early evening.

The camber believed a raft of measures was necessary to reduce the CBD's problem with drunken behaviour.

"People seem to be drinking at home more than they used to and are arriving in the city already drunk and then causing problems so we have to be proactive and think of ways to deal with that," Mr Milson said.

Lte-night business owners said Fremantle's main street, South Terrace, was awash with thugs, drunks and drugged-up revellers in the early hours of the morning every weekend.

Shuwan Taher, who owns the Ali Baba and the 40 Dishes cafeon South Terrace, said that once the pubs started to close it got "really bad".

"The streets are packed and there is fighting and people drunk everywhere and vomiting," he said. "It is horrible and dangerous."

Nick Baccala, who has owned Nick's Place kebab shop on South Terrace for 23 years, said the area was as plagued by violence as it had ever been.

He said the situation could be improved by introducing more undercover police officers.

"We don't want lights and sirens everywhere making it look like a warzone so I think maybe some more police in plain clothes would be good," Mr Baccala said.

"It's still a great place to come it just needs a few improvements."

'The streets are packed and there is fighting and people drunk everywhere and vomiting'"Kebab shop owner * Nick Baccala *