POLICE numbers will still be bolstered on the Mornington Peninsula for up to four weeks during schoolies celebrations, despite crowds expected to be down this year.
But with public drunkenness no longer being a criminal offence in Victoria and police now having to arrange safe options for drunken revellers, could be plenty to keep them busy.
Superintendent Fiona Bock, above right, said all indications were that the peninsula would not be the top choice for school leavers this year, with many headed interstate or overseas.
“But we will still have a strong police presence because our aim is to allow school leavers to enjoy their end of school celebrations safely and to keep the community is safe,” she said.
“We liaise with other agencies, accommodation providers, road data and anecdotal data to work out our resources, and we may modify things as needed.”
Bock said the lack of a sobering up centre on the peninsula meant police would be required to transport people safely home and would work with volunteer groups such as Red Frogs youth charity and Rotary, or in some cases liaise with Ambulance Victoria.
“We are prepared and have the resources to deal with it,” she said.
Bock said police were also calling on the community to take notice of large gatherings of people “impacting” those around them and call 000 if necessary.
“We want young people to heed the message ‘look after your mates’ and look after each other, and we want the community to feel comfortable for police help if they see behaviour that is escalating or having an impact on others,” she said.
“We have been talking to young people in schools, licensed and entertainment venues months in advance to make sure that everyone knows their obligations and that young people are not vulnerable.”
Rye is still expected to be the busiest schoolies location on the peninsula, but other popular entertainment precincts such as Sorrento and Mornington will be closely monitored.
“We’ll also have a police presence on arterial roads and main roads,” Bock said.
“It’s about public safety, and young people being able to have a good time without taking risks.”
Schoolies in Victoria officially runs from 18 November to 10 December.