Youth crime wave

Com­mu­nity con­cern at rise in of­fences

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - SHAUN McMANUS

PO­LICE say they are aware of a rise in youth crime in the New Nor­folk area, and are tak­ing steps to pre­vent it amid grow­ing com­mu­nity con­cern.

The com­mu­nity is up in arms about a per­ceived crime rise in the re­gion.

A res­i­dent, who did not wish to be named for fear of ret­ri­bu­tion, said the com­mu­nity was de­mand­ing answers from the coun­cil and the po­lice about what ac­tion would be taken.

“Be­cause of the is­sues with some of the youths up in New Nor­folk, it’s got­ten to a point where the com­mu­nity doesn’t re­ally feel safe any­more, they don’t feel like they have rights,” the res­i­dent said. “This is the first time in a very long time that the com­mu­nity has felt un­safe and felt help­less.”

A pe­ti­tion has been started at the New Nor­folk Newsagency to have the town’s po­lice sta­tion per­ma­nently staffed.

In­spec­tor Ge­orge Cretu, from the Bridge­wa­ter po­lice di­vi­sion, which has re­spon­si­bil­ity for New Nor­folk, said the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of a rise in youth crime was ac­cu­rate.

“We’ve no­ticed a num­ber of of­fences rang­ing from van­dal­ism to prop­erty crime in and around New Nor­folk in par- tic­u­lar over the last three to six months,” Insp Cretu said.

There have been two pub­lic as­saults in New Nor­folk since July this year, down from four at the same pe­riod last year.

But there have been 20 in­stances of prop­erty dam­age, com­pared with seven last year, and eight home bur­glar­ies, up from three from July to Oc­to­ber last year.

Insp Cretu said most prop­erty dam­age could be at­trib­uted to the youth co­hort, aged from 13 to 19 years old. He said po­lice were tak­ing steps to com­bat the rise.

“We’ve re­vised our shift struc­tures there, so that our start and fin­ish times aren’t as pre­dictable,” Insp Cretu said.

“We’ve had ex­tra pa­trols up there from out­side of the area at odd times and to sup­ple­ment the cur­rent po­lice there.

“We’ve also had a con­certed ... ef­fort from the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion branch.

“Peo­ple will see some high­pro­file pa­trols over the next month or so up there, par­tic­u­larly in the New Nor­folk CBD, and we’re also work­ing closely with the [New Nor­folk high] school.”

Der­went Val­ley Mayor Mar­tyn Evans said the coun­cil could work with the Der­went Val­ley PCYC, and had in­stalled CCTV cam­eras ear­lier in the year, but other than that its hands were tied.

But he said the coun­cil was lob­by­ing the State Gov­ern­ment for more po­lice, and urged res­i­dents to do the same.

“Be­ing so close to an elec­tion ... it’s a good time for us and peo­ple to ad­vo­cate for a 24-hour po­lice sta­tion to be in the Val­ley,” he said.

Insp Cretu said po­lice had made a num­ber of ar­rests of young peo­ple re­cently, and com­mit­ted them bail condi- tions to try and con­trol their be­hav­iour, but he said there was no sim­ple so­lu­tion.

“Deal­ing with youth crime is dif­fi­cult, and what we have seen is that New Nor­folk and the Der­went Val­ley prob­a­bly doesn’t have some youth ser­vices, or didn’t have them un­til the PCYC got there, and it’s go­ing to take a lit­tle while for that to have ef­fect,” Insp Cretu said.

Insp Cretu and Cr Evans urged res­i­dents to ring po­lice and re­port any crime.

Po­lice can be con­tacted on 131 444 and Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000.

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