Crime rates fell last year across a range of categories around the Snowy Valleys region, but in many instances still exceeded the state average, according to statistics revealed at a public meeting hosted by local police in Tumut last Thursday night
The Community Safety Precinct Committee meeting at the council chambers aimed to inform residents of the latest crime trends and what local police had been doing to curb crime in the area.
Riverina Police District Super Intendant Bob Noble said that he was proud of the police efforts in Tumut.
“I think the local police have worked extremely hard to stem the trends we’ve seen. What they are doing is working but there is still more work to do,” Mr Noble said.
In 2018, malicious damage to property had dropped to 171 incidents from 211 in 2017; stealing from motor vehicle had dropped to 76 incidents from 146 in 2017, and cases of breaking and entering had dropped to 82 from 115 in 2017.
Cases of assault lingered at around the same mark, with 66 incidents of domestic violence related assault recorded in 2018, from 67 in 2017. Non-domestic violence assault had dropped by nine incidents, with 60 recorded in 2018 from 69 in 2017.
All cases were regarded as trending as stable according to the BOCSAR research.
One rise that police were concerned about was the slight elevation in motor vehicle theft incidents, up at 38 incidents in 2018 from 28 in 2017.
“As we are aware, Tumut has a seen an increase involving stealing from motor vehicles and one of the reasons for that is because we have a demographic that have moved to Tumut from other areas who know how to commit crime and because people aren’t securing their vehicles,” Sergeant Brian Hammond said.
“Fortunately we haven’t had any situations where car windows are being smashed but we have seen attempts on CCTV that people are going along and trying doors.
“But people are learning to lock their cars and are more careful. Aside from it being an offence to be more than five meters away from a vehicle without securing it, it’s in the best interest of the public that your car is locked,” Sargent Hammond said.
Inspector Stephen Radford said that a broad demographic of youths moving to the area from urbanized areas such as Wagga and Albury were influencing local kids to commit crime.
“Four to five years ago, crime was much less than it is now,” he said. “We have a demographic of young kids here who weren’t here before and they are influencing our local kids to do the wrong thing.
“Crime also walks hand in hand with ice use. Statistically, you can see how it pushes our stats upwards being that we have a low population to begin with and yet with an influx of criminals moving to the area.”
Mr Radford said he believed that criminal activity would drop significantly if local police stations were manned 24 hours a day.
“If I had my way, I think the best way to drop crime would be to introduce 24 hour policing but you need 30 area police to be able to do that,” he said.
Mr Noble said that more police performing longer hours was the biggest curb to crime in the area and that although it was a desire of local law enforcement to have more police on duty, it wouldn’t be known whether more police could be sent to Tumut until the end of the financial year.
“If I get my way, I would like to see more police in this area,” Mr Noble said.
Mr Noble said that there was no doubt that domestic violence and disadvantaged youths were the two biggest drivers of crime in the area.
“Most of our time is spent dealing with domestic violence issues which is once again spurred on by ice-use. We’re not anywhere near where we would like to be with domestic violence. If you look at the data, it’s probably become worse. But at the same time, reports of domestic violence go up because of a national awareness and attitudes changing in the favor of reporting it,” Mr Noble said.
He said that research for the state had revealed that police had been channeling their efforts almost exclusively on victims of domestic violence and that not enough was being done to target and monitor abusers.
“As a result, Tumut police are targeting repeat offenders and keeping closer tabs on them,” Mr Noble said.
Inspector Radford said that with the start of Snowy 2.0, it was expected that road vehicle accidents would climb due to the influx of traffic coming through the area.
“Snowy 2.0 will be coming soon and so with that our road trauma risk goes up,” he said.
“We do need extra staff as Snowy 2.0 moves along. If there’s a helicopter crash up in the mountains and the prime minister wants a response within 30 minutes and there’s only three staff on here, what do we do?”
Inspector Radford also touched on the need for CCTV cameras in Adelong due to it becoming a hot-spot for breaking and entering and said that he hoped to have them in time for Adelong’s new police station.
He also said that he was immensely proud of what had been achieved with Tumut’s PCYC programs and noted that Tumbarumba had the lowest crime figures despite the perception that that they were high.