By NICOLE WILLIAMS
PROTECTIVE Services Officers will begin patrolling Pakenham railway station next Tuesday.
PSOs will start their first shift at the station on Tuesday 21 May from 6pm until the last train and will be on duty every night.
Member for Bass Ken Smith said he was delighted PSOs were to be deployed at Pakenham.
“It is the end of the line for suburban trains and to have the PSOs there to look after the security and safety of people is a very good thing,” he said.
“It is a great thing for Pakenham.”
Mr Smith acknowledged that there have been concerns about safety in the area.
“There have been concerns about security at Pakenham from time to time and these PSOs will ensure the public will be secure and safe when they stop at Pakenham or while waiting for people to pick them up,” he said.
“Pakenham is certainly an area that needs to have that security there for people as it is important they feel safe when they get off the train.”
Feedback on the Gazette Facebook page was mixed from local residents; many people believed the PSOs would improve safety and some believed it would make no difference as trouble was caused away from the station or on the train itself.
Jade Macreadie and Kylie Rodman work late and arrive at Pakenham station when it is dark.
“From someone who occasionally works late in the city, it is a relief,” Ms Rodman said.
“I do not feel safe, especially when a crowd gets on the train drunk and tries to pick fights. It is about time something is done.”
Patrick McSuave and Jenny Blackney agreed that a presence on the platform was not enough.
“It is great for a bit of presence on the platform, but what about on the actual train between stations?” Mr McSuave said.
“I’ve felt very unsafe actually on the train a few times, with literally zero recourse save getting off before my stop at Pakenham.”
Ms Blackney said they needed to target ‘the louts’ that hang around the station and on the trains.
“There always seem to be a problem at least weekly. I have been travelling on trains since 1979, and it seems to be getting worse,” she said.
The local deployment came after PSOs were rolled-out at South Yarra, Melton, Greensborough and Upwey stations last week.
Transit Safety Division Superintendent John Hendrickson said the PSOs continued to be extremely well received by the community across the rail network.
“It’s great to see members of the public approach the PSOs during their shifts and thank them for the work they’re doing to help to keep their stations safe,” Supt Hendrickson said.
“We now have 362 PSOs working at 47 train stations across greater Melbourne.”
The deployment of PSOs is based on a number of factors such as how busy the train station is and the amount of reported crime and anti-social behaviour. New squads will regularly enter the academy training program throughout the year.
Victoria Police will recruit 940 PSOs by November 2014.