Local police weren’t consulted about new injecting room

Broadcast by 3AW on 5 June 2020

A second Victorian supervised injecting room, in Melbourne’s CBD, has been announced today but key stakeholders say they weren’t consulted.

Police union secretary Wayne Gatt said he was “surprised” by today’s announcement that a safe injecting room will open opposite the Queen Victoria Market.

“I’m not sure that anyone had consulted with members in the North Melbourne area, certainly not the police in North Melbourne,” he told 3AW’s Heidi Murphy, filling in for Tom Elliott.

“I would be very surprised if anybody has, in any way, consulted with with residents.”

Mr Gatt said the community deserve input into the decision to open a supervised drug use facility, and the North Richmond injecting room has negatively impacted the community.

“Communities have a right,” he said.

“We saw a notable increase in crime in the immediate vicinity of that operating centre in the Richmond area.

“We agree there was a lack of amenity in that area, and we heard very much from the local residents who said it had quite a negative impact on their use of their local community.”

Mr Gatt said the area of the CBD earmarked for the injecting room does not have higher instances of drug use than other parts of the city.

“It’s of no greater frequency in their (local police) view than any other area that they are called to attend, so why you would choose that area over any other is a loss to me.”