New police team to tackle youth crime
A specialised police unit designed to address the root causes of youth crime has joined the Pilbara District Police force for the first time.
Six youth crime intervention officers joined the force last month as part of a WA Police youth policing initiative that has been gradually rolled out across the State over the past five years.
Four officers are stationed in Karratha and another two are in South Hedland.
Pilbara District Police engagement and support officer-incharge Kal Greenaway, who is overseeing the new unit, said there was a need for police with a youth speciality in the region.
“Around 80 per cent of reported crime in the Pilbara is juvenile-related, so it makes sense to introduce officers into the district with a specific focus on youth and their offending and trying to divert them away from crime and into crime diversionary programs,” she said.
WA Police Acting Senior Sergeant of youth policing operations Leona Liddelow said the officers would be working closely with local youth centres, government departments and community not-for-profits to provide a holistic approach to countering youth crime.
“The officers’ role is to proactively engage with the youth and to address the risk factors of them offending,” she said.
“The overall aim is to develop strategies to address complex youth policing issues. So we want officers to proactively engage with kids that are causing the problems, but also to establish and maintain partnerships with other governmental and nongovernmental organisations.”
“It has to be a multi-agency approach to come to a solution.”
Sen Sgt Liddelow said feedback from agencies involved with the youth police units was “very proactive, very positive”.
In the Pilbara, the Karratha Salvation Army is one of those agencies and captain Niall Gibson said he welcomed having a specialised youth squad on the district police.
“They’ve got more police here because of it, so I believe it’s a good thing and a worthy thing for up here,” he said.
Pilbara District Police Senior Sergeant Kal Greenaway with new youth crime intervention officers Senior Constable Gerry Pilkington, First Class Constable Charlie Lennon and Constable Adam Levak at the Karratha Youth Shed skate park.