West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has called for Fremantle's tent city to be shut down after police linked a number of serious crimes, including assaults and child sex offences, to the homeless camp.
But advocates privately dispute the connection between some of the alleged offending and the camp, while Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt has blamed the state government for failing to address the homelessness issue.
WA Police on Thursday said it had responded to 77 calls for assistance since Boxing Day with issues at the Pioneer Park camp, which is home to about 100 people.
Officers had issued move-on notices and fines for alcohol and minor criminal offences.
In a statement, police said there had also been "reportable incidents in the area" in recent weeks resulting in significant charges being laid.
They included two men, aged 44 and 41, allegedly sexually assaulting two girls aged 13 and 14 on Fleet St in the early hours of January 1.
The 44-year-old has been charged with sexual penetration and indecent dealing of a child aged 13 to 16. His alleged accomplice has been charged with indecent dealing.
"Some of the charges are very, very disturbing," Mr McGowan told reporters.
"This is a bad situation. Innocent members of the public are being victimised, the local businesses are being attacked."
Police also highlighted several alleged assaults in Fremantle, including on a man struck in the head with a rock at Pioneer Park and a 51-year-old woman threatened with a knife.
Mr McGowan, who has blamed "anarchists" for establishing the camp, has claimed police have been hamstrung by the City of Fremantle's lack of intervention.
Fremantle's mayor hit back, saying the council had never invited people to camp in the park but had taken responsibility for maintaining health and hygiene.
"From the beginning we have been working with the government, the police and the community services to resolve this situation in a caring and compassionate way," Mr Pettitt said.
"The latest advice we have is that there are around 170 people sleeping rough in Fremantle on any given night, and this has been the case since long before the Pioneer Park camp came into being."
Mr Pettitt - who is running for the Greens at the March state election - said the number of people sleeping rough in Fremantle had spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.
"It is the premier and the WA state government who are responsible for ensuring this housing and the necessary wrap around services are provided and, so far, they have failed to do so," he said.
Indigenous leaders and homeless advocates, including Megan Krakouer from the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, have also questioned the premier's claim that there are adequate beds available for the homeless.
"I strongly urge Mr McGowan come to the Fremantle camp and speak to the people themselves to find out the truth about desperate people abandoned by his government," Ms Krakouer said.
Australian Associated Press