Valley safe despite concerns

FEARS the Latrobe Valley is unsafe at night have been dismissed by Latrobe Valley police who believe, if safety precautions are taken, residents should confidently walk the streets at night.

Reader responses on The Express’ Facebook page revealed many readers felt unsafe walking the Valley’s streets at night, however Latrobe Police Leading Senior Constable Brett Godden said crime statistics were not supporting these fears.

“We don’t have a large number of assaults considering our population size,” Ldg Snr Const Godden said.

“I went to Traralgon about three weeks back and the crowd were responsible and well behaved. Of course when you add alcohol in the mix and no brains we always get problems though.”

In light of the rape and murder of ABC employee Jill Meagher last week, after running into foul play on her way home from a night out, Ldg Snr Const Godden encouraged residents to “travel in numbers”.

“If possible, walk in a group or walk with more than one person, and if you are feeling (vulnerable) stay to well lit areas,” he said.

“We do get the occasional assault, but when you add alcohol to somebody that is inclined on doing something then they are going to do it, unfortunately some folks just shouldn’t drink.”

Ldg Snr Const Godden said since the reinstatement of the Latrobe Valley Bus night service in June safety had drastically improved in Traralgon’s central business district as “less people were loitering” and causing anti-social behaviour.

“If we can legislate against stupidity, then half our problems would be over,” he said.

The recent Night Bus Service report shows on average 50 people each Saturday night utilised the security-monitored service over the past two months, with no violent incidents being reported since it began in June.

Majority of responses to The Express Facebook page, on whether readers felt safe in the Valley at night, revealed many avoided walking alone in the evening.

Reader Sally Mafis said several repeat incidents of brazen vandalism to her property had frightened her to go out at night by herself.

“In the last two weeks I’ve had the side mirrors ripped off my car in the driveway of my home, plants snapped and broken in the garden near the front door so if that happens in your own home I could just imagine what isolated streets, parks and sporting grounds are like,” Ms Mafis said.

Despite taking steps to improve an individual’s safety, Ms Mafis said people may still be faced with “unlucky” circumstances.

“If people make that decision to attack or rob you they are going to do it no matter what,” she wrote on The Express’ Facebook page.

“We can take steps to maximise our own safety but they will just find someone eventually so that’s why we all need to adopt an”it could be me attitude’ and never take our safety for granted because it very well could be our unlucky day.”