SURELY it must be any time soon that the police catch Tamworth’s most-wanted criminals, those responsible for the mounting toll of break-ins and thefts.
After all, according to the outcome of Thursday’s crisis meeting between police, the member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson, and Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray, the police know who they are looking for.
Catching them in the act is apparently the problem. But now with seven officers from the Oxley Local Area Command assigned to the Target Action Group (TAG) they must be close.
The community awaits the good news.
Forgive us, but we take little comfort from some of the outcomes from the meeting as they have been outlined.
Can we assume once this group of “thrillseeking,” “known” young locals who see breaking into people’s homes and stealing their belongings as “a game” are taken off the streets and sent to detention, that the city’s crime problems will be solved?
Are these the same people who were causing the crime wave of 12 months ago? We don’t think so.
These culprits must be a new breed of villains who have filled the void or joined the ranks of those causing the trouble back then.
The new crime environment of young people stealthily breaking into homes in the middle of the night for fun is immaterial.
What is important, regardless of their motivation, is that they just need to be caught.
Tamworth’s worsening crime rate is not a new development.
As the statistics show the crime rate has been increasing since 2009 and break-ins have more than doubled.
It appears that as one group of crooks gets caught, another group takes its place and the statistics continue to rise.
There are three main issues here.
Firstly, there is determining where the criminal element comes from. Are they imports, sent here to fill Department of Housing vacancies, or simply blow-ins from elsewhere looking for opportunities – or are they a criminal culture propagated on our own doorstep?
Working through this issue might identify the cause. Then it is a matter of working on the solutions.
The second issue, is a growing community concern and belief that the juvenile justice system works against the community.
People want the legislation tightened to protect the community interest from repeat offenders and bail-breakers.
The third issue, is the police and the results they are achieving on the community’s behalf.
They are concentrating on today’s problems, but with the crime statistics going up, there has to be a long-term strategy to drive down the numbers.
That has not happened in some crime categories over the past four years. If that needs to involve other agencies, then let’s have the meetings to develop the strategic plan.
Both Mr Anderson and the Oxley Local Area Command Superintendent Clint Pheeney are on the record saying they are confident the crime rate will fall.
Time will be the judge, but in the meantime, if the police know who they are looking for, go and get them.