After Herald Sun journalists investigated the drug abuse and anti-social behavior in Hoiser Lane, Mayor Robert Doyle announced that the council is seriously considering installing security cameras in the most famous graffiti and street art attractions in Melbourne.
“A few years ago we had drug use related problems, burned garbage cans and anti-social conduct in that lane, and we considered the possibility of improving the lighting and installing CCTV. Perhaps, it is now time to video record.”
In 2013, Doyle proposed to install CCTV in Hosier Lane and Rutledge Lane after a surge of attacks and vandalism were reported to the police. However the Council rejected the idea after the Street art community flatly opposed.
There are only a couple of CCTV cameras installed in the lane, which show people consuming drugs every day.
Some people have mentioned that these people do not represent any kind of threat since they have an “implicit code of conduct”.
“We are family here and we take care of each other” says a man that answers to the name of Jubs “We arrange the trash cans in such a way that we can smoke behind them, that way children do not see us”.
Jubs said that people never approached the tourists. “We only yell at them to go away when they take pictures literally in our faces”.
At least 60 homeless regularly visit Hosier Lane and hundreds of them visit it sporadically during the day, as they are part of that community.
For some of the most important graffiti artists, the installation of CCTV at Hosier Lane makes them angry, since they use pseudonyms to stay anonymous when they come out to paint. When these artists work they sometimes do it illegally and other times they simply do not want to be identified.
However, problems continue to worsen. Last month sexual acts in the full light of day were reported to the police and several tourists were also attacked and insulted.
Trevor Cornwill, police inspector said that the police will continue patrolling the area and will act properly and immediately if they see any problems.
These situations hurt the reputation of Melbourne and local businesses. These lanes surrounded by graffiti art are one of the main tourist attractions of Melbourne. In the mornings many youth will visit these alleys and during the day dozens of tourists from all parts of the world walk by.
For the moment, the police can do very little to combat anti-social behavior, unless they are present when a crime is committed.
Some homeless people have built temporary shelters with boxes and cans and will use drugs while the tourists are taking pictures.
Other anti-social behavior is urinating in public. The Lane smells very bad in certain areas and even for local people it is starting to be intimidating to pass by.
The police think that the increase of people sleeping within these areas is because some homeless shelters have been shut down from other parts of the city. The police recognise that there are only a few known homeless civilians that cause problems and that the majority do not cause problems.
We hope that the authorities solve these problems soon. We are convinced that installing security cameras, increasing the police presence and regularly collecting garbage will improve these lanes and help to complement the urban graffiti art that makes Melbourne a unique city in the world.