Police have upset long-standing members of a CBD safety committee by inviting them to an event to commemorate its closure.
Don Parsons has chaired the Police and Community Consultative Committee (PCCC) since 1993 and says he has never in his life been treated so poorly.
On March 13, Acting Inspector Rhonda Brown emailed committee members: “I formally invite you attend the closure of Melbourne Police Consultative Community Committee on Tuesday, March 31 2015. It will be held at the Melbourne Town Hall, Council Meeting Room at 3.30pm. There will be refreshments and presentations.”
Mr Parsons said this came “out of the blue” and he is highly offended.
The police have been frustrated with the monthly PCCC for some time now and had stopped attending. They have established a quarterly Melbourne Safety and Security Committee starting in July which, they say, will yield better community outcomes.
Mr Parsons acknowledges the strained recent history but says at a meeting on March 4 police agreed to an alternative compromise approach.
Under the compromise position, Mr Parsons would continue to chair the committee, but it would meet quarterly.
Cr Richard Foster corroborates this, saying he personally brokered the compromise at the March 4 meeting and is equally surprised by Acting Inspector Brown’s actions.
“To just can it without any further discussion is just so insulting to people like Don and the others,” Cr Foster said. ‘It’s just not on.”
Cr Foster acknowledged that there were problems with the PCCC structure and that police needed to get value from their investment of time and resources.
“But there is a right way and the wrong way to go about this,” he said. “To book a room at the town hall to celebrate the committee’s demise is pretty rough.”
Mr Parsons said: “If the police have decided to walk away from the agreed March 4 format, I would have expected the courtesy of a call to me from the Acting Inspector.”
“Frankly, I have never been treated by anyone in such a cavalier manner!”
Mr Parsons said the CBD community would suffer without the PCCC, but Melbourne East Police Station commander Sen Sgt Dale Huntington says the new structure will deliver better results.
He said the PCCC had been “inquisitorial” with police on the back foot defending what they may or may not have done about various perceived problems in the city.
He said the new structure would involve more representative groups and would look at a broader range of community issues.
Acting Inspector Brown agrees but acknowledges that Mr Parsons has done a great job over many years.
“He has put his heart and soul into it and we recognise and respect that,” she said.
“We told him he could set up any committee he liked, just not a PCCC chaired by police,” she said.