Po­lice warn young gangs

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Ryan Mathe­son

PO­LICE have launched a crack­down on anti-so­cial be­hav­ior at Castle­town af­ter two ri­val gangs squared off in front of fright­ened shop­pers re­cently.

A brawl erupted be­tween two large groups of teenagers af­ter a war of words spilled over dur­ing Thurs­day night trad­ing.

The con­fronta­tion was al­legedly spurred on by a se­ries of taunts through so­cial net­work­ing site Face­book.

Po­lice launched Op­er­a­tion Avon this week in an at­tempt to de­ter any fur­ther in­ci­dents at the pop­u­lar shop­ping precinct.

Mund­ing­burra po­lice of­fi­cer-in-charge Se­niorSergeant Graeme Pater­son said cen­tre man­age­ment was fed up with wayward youths.

‘‘ Po­lice are work­ing in con­junc­tion with se­cu­rity at the cen­tre to de­ter any fur­ther in­ci­dents,’’ he said.

‘ ‘ Cen­tre man­age­ment h a s r e c e i v e d s o m e feed­back from cus­tomers who are un­happy about what has been go­ing on.

‘‘ Ob­vi­ously they are de­ter­mined to en­sure the venue re­mains safe.’’

The op­er­a­tion, to run for a month, will look at the need for in­creased pres­ence at s hop­ping cen­tres in the fu­ture.

Po­lice car­ried out more than 20 street checks and is­sued two move-on or­ders dur­ing Thurs­day’s op­er­a­tion launch.

Sen-Sgt Pater­son said the crack­down was al­ready pro­duc­ing ben­e­fits.

‘‘ The num­ber of youths ( s po­ken t o) r emained high this week, but they were well aware of the f act t hey were be­ing mon­i­tored by po­lice,’’ he said.

‘‘ The op­er­a­tion is our re­sponse to ad­dress the is­sues be­fore there is a chance for the sit­u­a­tion to es­ca­late.

‘‘ The ma­jor­ity of young peo­ple want to go out with friends and have a good time.

‘‘ As we see in a lot of sit­u­a­tions, there are a se­lect few who ruin it for the rest.’’

The op­er­a­tion is set to fol­low an in­creased level of po­lice pres­ence across the city’s ma­jor shop­ping precincts dur­ing peak hour.

Of­fi­cers have been al­lo­cated to pa­trol Stock­land and Wil­lows shop­ping cen­tres to de­ter the on­set of sim­i­lar is­sues.

Sen-Sgt Pater­son said g a n g - r e l a t e d v i o l e n c e w a s n ’ t i s o l a t e d t o Castle­town.

‘‘ We want to send a clear mes­sage to youths who go out with trou­ble in mind that we will be there and will not hesit a t e t o t a k e a c t i o n against of­fences in shopp i n g c e n t r e s a c r o s s Townsville,’’ he said.

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