Opinion: Acting Inspector Greg Barras – Victoria Police Safer Communities (Australia)
It’s a tough job being a parent. I have two children, I know.
As a police officer and a father, I am always concerned when police are called to respond to incidents of unsupervised parties involving large numbers of young people, and often alcohol.
Things can turn nasty very quickly, as we’ve seen over the weekend in suburban Melbourne.
What starts as a small gathering can quickly gather momentum and before you know it bottles are being thrown, property is being damaged and things are out of control.
What confronts police when they arrive at these parties are often scary scenes – intoxicated young people, assaults, noise, frightened neighbours, damage to houses and vehicles.
While parties themselves are nothing new, in today’s world where social media reigns supreme, the game has changed completely.
The power of social media and the opportunity it provides for gatecrashers and people looking to cause trouble is often grossly underestimated.
As parents, as police, as responsible members of the community, there are steps we can all take to help keep things in hand.
Talk to your children. If they’re going to a party, ask questions. Who will be there, will it be supervised, will there be alcohol, how many people are going, how has it been advertised? Call the organisers and ask them questions.
If you or your teenagers are holding a party, do it responsibly. Be aware of the dangers of providing information to guests via websites such as Facebook and Twitter. If you can’t manage it, don’t do it.
Visit your local police station and register the party with Partysafe. This way police are aware of the party and can provide timely assistance if things do start to get out of hand.
Victoria Police has implemented the Partysafe program across Victoria. It is a key crime prevention tool.
Partysafe gives people useful tips on how to help minimise the risk of having intoxicated guests or gatecrashers ruin the party.
Register the party at least two weeks before it is being held. Before you register, have an idea of the number of people attending and speak to your neighbours to let them know about the party.
Partysafe is about minimising the risks so that everyone can have fun and feel safe.
Don’t allow young people to bring their own alcohol as it can become hard to control how much is being consumed.
From 1October 2011, it is an offence to serve or provide alcohol to a child under 18 years of age without written or verbal permission from the parent or guardian. This applies to everyone, everywhere.
Make it clear at the entrance the party is by invitation only – this will discourage gatecrashers. If you’re concerned that uninvited guests may turn up and cause trouble, look at hiring private security for the night. Parental supervision or the presence of other adults will help keep trouble at bay.
Taking these steps could ensure the party runs without incident or interruption to your neighbours and others in your local area.
If things do start to get out of hand, notify police early. It’s everyone’s responsibility.
Irresponsible serving of alcohol and unsupervised young partygoers can be a dangerous mix which police see far too often. This behaviour leads to violence and broader social issues within our community.
In my policing career I have personally seen the impact of good times gone bad. What seems like a bit of fun can quickly spiral out of control resulting in unexpected events that have everlasting consequences.
Talk to your kids. Talk to your neighbours. Talk to your police.