NEW EYE TO BEAT CRIMS

Daily Mercury - - FRONT PAGE -

BIG Brother could be keep­ing a closer eye on the Sa­rina and Mar­ian town cen­tres if the LNP wins the November 25 elec­tion. A com­mit­ment to spend $100,000 on closed cir­cuit tele­vi­sions in the two cen­tres will be an­nounced by the LNP’s can­di­date for Mi­rani to­day.

It’s a win for Kerry Lat­ter, who has been a vo­cal ad­vo­cate for in­creased crime pre­ven­tion re­sources in the face of grow­ing pub­lic con­cern since launch­ing his cam­paign in July.

But it’s a small of­fer­ing from his party lead­ers who have an­nounced mil­lion-dol­lar ini­tia­tives to tackle crime in other parts of the state. Last week Tim Ni­cholls chose Townsville to an­nounce a ma­jor crime pol­icy; that the LNP would com­mit to a six-month trial of a cur­few to keep youth off the streets late at night to curb that re­gion’s ju­ve­nile crime.

Yes­ter­day the party an­nounced an ex­tra 535 front­line po­lice of­fi­cers would be on the beat from Cairns to the Gold Coast and $8 mil­lion would be in­vested as part of a plan to re­duce re-of­fend­ing rates for ju­ve­niles and adult of­fend­ers who are re­leased from jail.

Julieanne Gil­bert, whose party promised an additional 11 of­fi­cers for the re­gion, said “...we need to have our fair share of any additional re­sources so we can main­tain our low level of crime”.

“We can’t take our eye off the ball with re­sources and let the crime rate in­crease.”

All sides of pol­i­tics are promis­ing front­line po­lice re­in­force­ments in the run to elec­tion day, but an in­creas­ingly wor­ried com­mu­nity just wants to know how much money Mackay will see and how it will help curb this re­gion’s es­ca­lat­ing crime rate.

Mr Lat­ter was un­able to say yes­ter­day what the LNP an­nounce­ments would mean for Mackay.

In Sa­rina the cam­eras would be in­stalled when Mackay Re­gional Coun­cil re­vamps the town cen­tre and the place­ment and tim­ing at Mar­ian would also de­pend on the coun­cil, he said.

“These cam­eras would also give peo­ple a sense of some de­gree of com­fort know­ing that there is mon­i­tor­ing go­ing on and it acts as a de­ter­rent for crim­i­nals.”

A fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Face­book page Mackay Crime Watch, Mr Lat­ter has been push­ing for more ‘boots on the ground’ and im­proved po­lice re­sources to com­bat what he de­scribes as the “ram­pant” crime prob­lem in the re­gion.

“We can­not and will not re­main silent while thugs break into, van­dalise and steal res­i­dents prop­erty,” he wrote to his cam­paign Face­book page in July.

“Peo­ple are fright­ened to do any­thing and leave any­thing un­locked and even if they park a car out­side they ei­ther find the car stolen or the num­ber plate stolen,” he said.

“I think that crime is ram­pant. We need to get on top of it and give the po­lice as much sup­port as pos­si­ble.

“They are do­ing a great job with what re­sources they’ve got, but we need to make sure we bet­ter re­source them and give them the pow­ers to op­er­ate.

“But we need to make sure that the court sys­tem starts to re­flect more what com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tion is.”

Mackay po­lice dis­trict has 320 of­fi­cers, but Mr Lat­ter has called for a re­view into the num­bers needed, claim­ing po­lice have told him they don’t have the re­quired re­sources.

While he didn’t give an ex­act fig­ure of how many were sat­is­fac­tory, he said Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk’s prom­ise of an 11 additional of­fi­cers for the Mackay re­gion, out of the 400 to be rolled out across the state over the next four years, should La­bor be elected, was not enough.

Noela Lowry, an ad­min­is­tra­tor of the crime watch Face­book page, agreed more po­lice were needed. “I cer­tainly don’t be­lieve crime is un­der con­trol in Mackay,” she said.

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