Cairns shopping centre safety reviewed after attack

 

AN attack on a security guard at a popular Cairns retail complex has prompted Far North shopping centre managers to examine ways to improve security.

Earlier this month shoppers were confronted by up to 20 juveniles throwing rocks and fighting, with a person reportedly wielding a knife outside Cairns DFO in Mulgrave Rd.

A 12-year-old boy was arrested in relation to the incident but not before a security guard was injured trying to disperse the group.

Police attend a crime scene at Cairns Central car park where a woman was allegedly attacked while riding her bike PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Police attend a crime scene at Cairns Central car park where a woman was allegedly attacked while riding her bike PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

Shopping centres close to the Cairns CBD - known as youth crime hot spots - regularly find themselves targeted by groups of juveniles.

DFO Cairns centre manager Jodie McAndrew said management was always on the lookout for new and innovative ideas to improve security and safety at the centre.

"DFO Cairns is managed by a hands-on team who are always ready to take action on the ground," she said. "The safety of our customers and tenants is paramount and the security team at DFO Cairns are very proactive and focused, striving to achieve this daily."

Cairns DFO in Wescourt. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Cairns DFO in Wescourt. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

However, in the wake of the latest event, Ms McAndrew said a shake-up was needed.

"Unfortunately, with the incident (in which) one of our security staff sustained a minor injury, we have had to reassess our centre's security procedure," she said.

"The incident has prompted us to investigate ways in which we can improve our security presence … which will also include working with the Cairns police to ensure that this type of event does not reoccur."

The target of recent bag snatches, an armed holdup and the brazen theft of cigarettes by jumping over a Coles counter, Stockland Cairns has been at the centre of a spike in crime in the Earlville area.

Responding to questions from TheCairns Post asking what is being done to address the issue, a Stockland spokeswoman said the centre had enhanced the police beat, shopfront and CCTV systems on top of the usual security presence.

Cairns Central did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Lisa Edwards from Kewarra Beach leaving Cairns DFO in Westcourt after a quick shop. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Lisa Edwards from Kewarra Beach leaving Cairns DFO in Westcourt after a quick shop. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

SHOPPER 'PRETTY SCARED' WHEN YOUTHS APPROACHED

GANG fights, bag snatches, hold-ups, stealing and general anti-social behaviour has users of Cairns shopping centres running scared.

Kewarra Beach retail worker Lisa Edwards is no exception.

It was only recently she mustered the courage to return to Cairns DFO during her lunch break after being rattled by a run-in with a group of youngsters.

"I only work across the road at Audi and today is the first time I have walked over for lunch because the last time I went there I felt pretty scared," she said.

"When I walked out there was a big group of youths running around the centre.

"I was walking to the carpark and I noticed them coming toward me and I actually felt pretty scared and it felt like I needed to get across the road fairly quickly.

"Since that incident I refused to go there at that time of day."

Ms Edwards said she advised her mother, who described a similar feeling, to pick up supplies at her local shop rather than use the big shopping centres.

Feeling pressured into giving money to beggars was also a common issue flagged by Ms Edwards.

 

Sentinel Property Group's DFO Cairns retail complex.
Sentinel Property Group's DFO Cairns retail complex.

GOOD BUILDING DESIGN LEAVES CRIMS NOWHERE TO HIDE

PLANZ Town Planning managing director Nikki Huddy said shopping centres used a variety of techniques including entertainment and airconditioning to attract people.

However, methods designed to lure consumers didn't discriminate between cashed-up shoppers and juvenile delinquents looking to cause trouble.

"(They do) encourage people to gather (but) there is by definition a lot of black spots," she said.

Ms Huddy said crime prevention through environmental design excluded alleyways, blind spots, blank walls and recessed areas where someone could jump out at you. She said the prevalence of dark, multistorey carparks and stairwells could contribute to young offenders being attracted to shopping centres.