The newsagency was back here in the 70s when I used to live in Northbridge. It’s been about 10 years since the pharmacy and the newsagency combined into the one shop. I started doing this job in 2000 but I’ve lived in the area on and off since the mid 70’s.
We don’t have a lot of problems around our area. If you follow the media reports, most of the violence in Northbridge happens after 1 am. The serious incidents have been at 5 am. It’s more when people are thrown out of the venues when these problems occur. We have very, very little problems here and the police don’t come in very much. Around here, it’s usually for walking against the red man rather than any sort of violence.
I don’t think Northbridge is a particularly dangerous area. Again you have to consider that question in two parts. How dangerous is it for a women and how dangerous is it for a man? Because they’re very different stories. Women in Northbridge have to be more careful where they walk, particularly in the car park areas. For the guys, there’s a couple of guy areas I wouldn’t walk around in Northbridge but overall, I feel fairly safe.
I think there’s actually less trouble now particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. We have a good coverage of police patrols, cars through to horses to foot patrols. Ten years ago, they were doing things like police cars had to drive through Northbridge on the way to clock off from a shift just to show a police car but they weren’t really policing the area. A lot of the youth problems we did used to have, has faded away. There’s more of a youth problem in the Russell Square end. It used to be where it was complicated around the library car park area. Now since they’ve opened it up, we don’t get big groups congregating there. Where as it used to be a problem with 40 or 50 people.
I don’t think this is an area where under aged people really need to be roaming around at night. They’re going to encounter drugs being sold on the street, it’s not a positive place for younger people. Skate parks and things like that would be a better venue as far as I’m concerned than going around here where prostitution, drugs to all sorts of things are visible.
I think Northbridge is pretty much on the right track. It has a good police presence and that helps a lot. The problems are now more about perception and media coverage rather than the reality of the situation. I think the danger of Northbridge is very over hyped because people express concerns over what they hear about Northbridge but they don’t put it in that time reference. The reality is that stabbings and shootings all happen around 3 am to 5 am. We close before midnight so there’s no incidents at that time.
All the incidents where people get king hit outside the venues, again it’s been 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 in the morning. It’s a mistake to get hung up on incidents that happen in that time frame and allow it to take away from what Northbridge is.
In the daytime, this is more of a business district with most of our customers coming from the taxation department or other local businesses. Then it evolves into a restaurant district in the early evening, that’s more the character of the area. When it gets time for the pubs and clubs, it’s usually 9 pm people start coming to the hotels. A bit later it becomes the clubs.
You’ve always had times when people get a little drunk before they get to the venues because it’s so expensive to buy alcohol in a venue, not to mention they might have another substance in them. Again, if someone is coming out and using ecstasy, when they encounter us, they’re in the up phase. 3 in the morning, maybe they’re coming down off the drug and going into the more negative and violent frame of mind so for us, it’s not an issue.
Overall, for me personally as an openly gay man, I found the level of violence that I am confronted with, has been reduced steadily over the years and generally, I think that holds true for most things around.