Strate­gies work to re­duce crime stats

Geraldton Guardian - - Front Page - Adam Poulsen

Crime is down for the third year in a row in Ger­ald­ton and the en­tire Mid West-Gas­coyne district, WA Po­lice statis­tics have re­vealed.

Mid West-Gas­coyne Po­lice District Su­per­in­ten­dent Mike Bell said crime across the district fell by 8.5 per cent in 2016, 3 per cent in 2017, and 6.9 per cent for the year to date in 2018.

Supt Bell said the Mid West-Gas­coyne was the only district in WA to have achieved this feat.

“We put it down to re­ally solid of­fender man­age­ment: know­ing where our of­fend­ers are, con­duct­ing cur­few checks and en­gag­ing with of­fend­ers when they come out of prison,” he said.

“The other fac­tor is our crime pre­ven­tion strate­gies, which in­clude get­ting the community to ‘tar­get har­den’, our so­cial me­dia cam­paigns, and rais­ing aware­ness of spe­cific crime is­sues that we have.”

Supt Bell said the role of both “proac­tive” and “re­ac­tive” de­tec­tives was also vital.

“The re­ac­tive team ob­vi­ously deal with crime that’s oc­curred, but we now have ded­i­cated de­tec­tives that are look­ing at peo­ple in the community that we know are com­mit­ting of­fences or run­ning rack­ets,” he said.

“We’re ac­tively tar­get­ing them and we’ll see that come to fruition in due time, be­cause it takes a lit­tle bit more time to in­ves­ti­gate.”

Supt Bell said by tak­ing out up­per-level drug deal­ers, they could re­duce crime even fur­ther and im­prove is­sues with drug use.

He also cred­ited the district’s youth crime pre­ven­tion of­fi­cers.

“With those youths that are quite trou­bled, it’s about tak­ing hold of them, try­ing to di­vert them and keep­ing them oc­cu­pied as op­posed to idly walk­ing the streets,” he said.

Supt Bell said do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and bur­glar­ies were two of the big­gest chal­lenges still fac­ing Ger­ald­ton po­lice.

“We still have an is­sue with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, which we work ac­tively with,” he said.

“It’s a very chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment be­cause it in­volves re­la­tion­ships that can be­come strained, so it’s very dif­fi­cult for po­lice to in­ter­vene at the right time.”

Supt Bell said al­though bur­glary con­tin­ued to be a prob­lem, more peo­ple were heed­ing warn­ings to make their homes more se­cure.

“When I got here (in 2016), lots of bur­glar­ies in­volved in­se­cure premises with open win­dows and doors,” he said.

It’s a con­stantly changing dy­namic field, and we are very re­spon­sive to it.

Mid West Gas­coyne District Su­per­in­ten­dent Mike Bell

“Our cam­paign of tar­get har­den­ing has re­ally paid off in that of­fend­ers are now hav­ing to force their way, which cre­ates an ex­tra bar­rier to them com­mit­ting their of­fence and in­creases the chance they’ll get caught, ei­ther through some­one hear­ing them or through foren­sics.”

But ac­cord­ing to RAC In­sur­ance data for 2017, three Ger­ald­ton sub­urbs were among re­gional WA’s worst 10 sub­urbs for home breakins.

Ac­cord­ing to the data, which ranked sub­urbs based on their num­bers of home bur­glary in­sur­ance claims, Range­way was tied with South Bun­bury in fourth place, with 19 claims in 2017 — a steep climb from 11th place in 2016.

Spald­ing and Northam were tied at No.8 with 11 claims, while Ger­ald­ton and Carey Park were tied at No.10 with nine claims.

Ac­cord­ing to WA Po­lice statis­tics, 109 home bur­glar­ies were re­ported in Range­way in the fi­nan­cial year 2016-17.

But that fig­ure dropped sig­nif­i­cantly from 174 in 2015-16.

Spald­ing also saw a drop from 149 in 2015-16 to 93 in 2016-17, while Ger­ald­ton dropped from 132 to 90.

Supt Bell said po­lice statis­tics pro­vided a more com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of crime fig­ures.

“When we at­tend a bur­glary, we record it and it goes into our stats, so I would sug­gest ours are ac­cu­rate be­cause we are the first col­lec­tors,” he said.

“Crime moves from sub­urb to sub­urb, so if it is in Range­way, we know it’s there.

“When we push re­sources into Range­way, it then forces those peo­ple that are about to of­fend out and they move some­where else.

“It’s a con­stantly changing dy­namic field, and we are very re­spon­sive to it.”

Supt Bell said the community’s per­cep­tion of crime in Ger­ald­ton could also sometimes be ex­ag­ger­ated or mis­rep­re­sented through so­cial me­dia.

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