Brazen drug addict prostitutes have set up a ‘sex tent’ in a Melbourne park just metres away from a popular children’s playground and skate park.
Fed-up business owners say the tent is the least of their problems as crime continues to plague the Hemmings Street precinct in Dandenong West in the city’s south-east.
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, reported the filthy tent to the local council, saying her suburb was turning into a lawless ‘ghetto’.
‘There were sleeping bags inside, along with a whole heap of condom wrappers. I reported the sex tent to the council along with photos,’ she told the Herald Sun.
‘This is meant to a place for kids, with a large playground and skateboard ramps, it was there for almost four months, it was shocking.’
Street-based sex work is illegal in Victoria while brothels and escort agencies are permitted but strictly regulated under the Sex Work Act 1994.
Daily Mail Australia contacted business owners along Hemmings Street, who said it was common to find blood stains and used syringes littering the footpaths.
A chemist from Dandenong West Pharmacy, who wished to remain anonymous, said the area had been troubled by crime for a number of years.
‘There’s certainly syringes out the back, which is a problem, the shop next to us has a fence that doesn’t go to the back,’ he said.
The pharmacist said he had to deal with a heroin overdose in the public toilet in the parking lot across the road last year.
‘I had to call an ambulance because someone overdosed in the public toilets across the world. I was running the pharmacy, while dealing with someone who was overdosed and on the phone to the paramedics,’ he said.
His most frightening incident in the area came when he was held at knifepoint in the pharmacy eight years ago.
Next door, Nanak Bakery owner Manjinder Kaur said drug users often gathered in the parking spot behind her business.
‘We see so many people that are drugged, handing in the back of the cake shop next store to the IGA,’ Ms Kaur told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I can say quite frankly that we see condoms in the back of the cake shop, they (the drug users) also put rubbish and we see syringes in the back lane.
‘Two or three months ago, they were doing drugs and had a fight so my husband came and said “please go”. The police eventually came.
‘The day before yesterday, we saw some blood on the ground. So yesterday, we made the decision to build a fence at the back of the store. Sometimes we can’t even exit through the back of the store.’
Greater Dandenong Councillor Matthew Kirwan called for more social housing to reduce crime in the area.
‘Directly between Dandenong Railway Station and the Princes Highway is a neighbourhood of high crime rates, anti-social behaviour and poor social conditions that needs to be addressed by a plan between State government agencies and Council,’ Mr Kirwan said.
‘Well managed social housing won’t feed crime but instead reduce it – it’s part of the solution not part of the problem.’
A spokeswoman for Greater Dandenong Mayor Jim Memeti said the council was actively dealing with the ongoing crime.
‘In 2018, council installed CCTV cameras in Hemmings Street. We are also making a number of streetscape improvements,’ she said.
‘Council has been working closely with Victoria Police and a number of other agencies re the perceptions of safety in Hemmings Street and its surrounds.’
Greater Dandenong Local Area Commander Inspector Mark Langhorn said police regularly patrol Hemmings Street.
‘We are aware this is a busy area, particularly given the proximity to the Dandenong CBD, and task our officers to patrol accordingly,’ Inspector Langhorn told the Herald Sun.
He said police had seen a decrease in calls for assistance in the area in the past few months.