Secret Harbour shopping centre staff downplay brawl

Chloe Fraser and Stuart HortonSound Telegraph
Two police officers and a security guard were hospitalised when a brawl broke out involving more than 30 young people at a Secret Harbour shopping centre last Tuesday.
Camera IconTwo police officers and a security guard were hospitalised when a brawl broke out involving more than 30 young people at a Secret Harbour shopping centre last Tuesday.

Shop owners at the Secret Harbour shopping centre where a mass brawl broke out last Tuesday say the incident was a one-off and they are not worried about antisocial behaviour.

The Sound Telegraph spoke with several shop owners and staff who wished to remain anonymous, and all said they felt safe at the centre and the incident, in which nine people have been charged to date, was not cause cause for concern.

“I very much feel like it was a one-off thing. I don’t feel unsafe. I don’t live in Secret Harbour but from a business perspective I’ve not seen it (antisocial behaviour) happen often. It’s not a big deal,” one said.

“I don’t think antisocial behaviour is an issue here,” another employee said.

“I was speaking to a lady from Woolies after it happened and she said she doesn’t think something like that has ever happened before. So I think it was just a one-off.

“I live in Golden Bay and I don’t think there’s an issue with antisocial behaviour there either.

“The centre is pretty quiet at the moment and I don’t think that’s because people are scared to come here or anything like that, it’s just been pretty quiet in general lately.”

Others said they “don’t see any problem with antisocial behaviour in the centre”, one called it “unfortunate” but didn’t see it “as a big problem”, while another employee said “it’s usually a nice work environment most days”.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts called the behaviour “disgusting and completely inappropriate” but said police had responded decisively.

“The behaviour at Secret Harbour ... was disgusting and completely inappropriate but as Acting Assistant Commissioner Craig Donaldson has already publicly said, police don’t believe it is part of a wider trend,” the minister said.

“The new police operating model has delivered more police into front line response roles. It’s important for our police to be mobile and able to respond quickly when an incident like this occurs.”

Warnbro MLA Paul Papalia, whose electorate office is adjacent to the shopping centre and has been a long-time advocate for a police station in Secret Harbour, praised the “proper police response”.

He echoed the views of centre staff and said he didn’t believe there was a “great upsurge” in crime and antisocial behaviour in the suburb but would continue to support the presence of a police station between Rockingham and Mandurah. Mr Papalia said Labor had committed $10 million to build a police station in Secret Harbour in 2008 but because it lost the election the land set aside was subsequently sold.

“My view has always been it would be better to have a station between Rockingham and Mandurah, it’s a good idea and I’m always supportive of good ideas,” Mr Papalia said.

On Friday afternoon, the principal of nearby Comet Bay College issued a statement distancing the school and its students from the wild brawl.

“I can say that after viewing numerous CCTV videos supplied by Mandurah police that no student who is currently attending Comet Bay College was involved in the incident,” CBC principal Jamie Hayres said.

“The small number of students who were present stood watching as events unfolded and as the incident escalated, moved away and left the shopping centre.”

The brawl was allegedly a planned fight between two groups of teenagers.

Centre manager Charter Hall said it was working closely with authorities but would not comment further on the incident.

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