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Casino zone a magnet for late-night trouble
By Mark Dunn - Herald Sun (VIC Metropolitan, 3 February 2009)

MORE than 300 charges were laid by police for serious offences in the Crown casino precinct in 2007-08.

The charges included possessing weapons, assault, drug trafficking and possessing counterfeit money, according to documents obtained by the Herald Sun under Freedom of Information.

A LEAP database search on crimes committed at Crown casino found theft and deception offences were the biggest concern -- with 132 incidents.

The data also showed dozens of physical and sexual assaults were also prosecuted, with 70 bashings, five sexual assaults and one rape.

Offences also included 18 cases of people possessing hidden weapons, two cases of counterfeit money, two of leaving a child unattended while parents were suspected of gambling and one case of trying to help a prisoner escape police custody.

One offender was charged with a serious assault against police, two were charged with assault by kicking and there were 12 cases of car thefts, or thefts from cars, within the precinct's car parks.

There were also up to nine cases where people were charged with breaching a personal ban on them entering the casino imposed by Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon.

The crimes were recorded over 13 months between July 1, 2007, and July 30 last year.

Melbourne City division Supt Stephen Leane said the casino precinct was one of four "attractor'' hot-spots where police concentrated efforts to combat night crime.

Supt Leane said because of its continual operating hours and 24-hour taxi service, the casino attracted large numbers of people, some of them drunk.

"The casino is an attractor, particularly early in the morning,'' Supt Leane said.

Crown spokesman Gary O'Neill last night called for extra police in the precinct.

He said there were 55,000 visitors to the area every 24 hours from Thursday to Sunday each week. | End

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