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‘I’ve never seen it this bad’: Lygon Street traders worry about crime


Property crimes, including theft and arson, have risen from 676 to 823, and public order offenses – including possession of weapons and explosives – have risen from 49 in 2017 to 80 last year.

The number of drug offenses was the only category that dropped, from 47 in 2017 to 43 last year.

Marco Donnini, owner of Lygon Street restaurant Donnini’s, said the increase in crime had affected the popular street.

“It’s more of a fear that something will be violent,” he said. “There’s a fear in the street that something could happen at any time. That fear is kind of palpable.”

Donnini believed trouble on the streets had increased after Carlton Police Station closed in 2010 and the nearest station in North Melbourne was abandoned.

Luca Sbardella and other traders have called for more CCTV cameras on Lygon Street.Credit:Scott McNaughton

“There is a perception of organized crime in the streets, I think people would feel safer if crime was organized,” he said. “I’ve never seen it this bad.”

Sbardella and other traders have called for more police and CCTV cameras in the area to fight crime.

Phillip Mansour, executive officer of the local merchants’ association, Carlton Inc, said he regularly heard from merchants concerned about crime in the area.

“We have been asking for CCTV for a few years and the last budget from the City of Melbourne did not include the capacity to meet that need,” he said.

“We’ve worked with Victoria Police who have been quite responsive, but they have a limited workforce in terms of the number of people they can get on the beat.”

But Lyn Cracknell of the Carlton Residents Association said residents only wanted a police and council response if safety and security was at risk for residents, businesses and visitors.

“The association would rather have the causes than the symptoms addressed by our council on our behalf,” she said.

Senior Sergeant Carl Whibley said police regularly conducted special operations in Carlton, with a presence every Friday and Saturday night in the Lygon Street area.


“Police have also recently conducted operations in the area targeting other key areas of concern for the local community and business owners, such as graffiti and criminal damage,” he said.

“Carlton is mostly a safe area – we don’t have many issues here, but we know the wider impact just one incident can have on how safe the community feels. That is why it is important that people feel safe if they want to come here and enjoy the nightlife.”

Mayor Sally Capp said the council’s Safe City Camera program was the “guardian angel” of the city’s streets, as there were 220 CCTV cameras in Melbourne, although there were none in Carlton.

“We are committed to keeping our city safe for residents, employees and visitors – whether by brightening the lights on the city streets, installing new bollards or upgrading our CCTV network” , she said.

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