TAMWORTH’S anti-crime crusaders have condemned a state government decision that denies Tamworth a drug squad, dog squad and drug court.
Council’s failed bid to establish a drug court in Tamworth was revealed this week and is the latest blow in a three-pronged attack to flush out drug syndicates and drive down crime.
Chairman of the crime prevention group and deputy mayor Russell Webb told councillors on Tuesday night he had received a letter from Justice MinisterGreg Smith rejecting a proposal to set up a regional drug court in Tamworth.
This latest development adds salt to an already gaping wound after pleas by Tamworth Regional Council for a drug squad and dog squad to bolster the local force and combat escalating crime, also fell on deaf ears.
Council made a submission to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Police Minister Michael Gallacher back in June requesting the additional services, but were bluntly denied – due to funding restraints – about three weeks ago.
Cr Webb was adamant the setbacks wouldn’t dampen his group’s resolve.
“I will not let this go based on the fact that the people in our community pay the same taxes as communities on the eastern seaboard and that gives them an entitlement to similar service levels,” he said.
“We have had a few setbacks, but if you look at all the things that happen in the community, there are often setbacks and, with persistence, normally an outcome can be reached.”
Drugs, which had a direct link to property crime, violence and gun crime, were all serious issues for the community, Cr Webb said, making the rejections even harder to swallow.
But having the drug and dog squads knocked back was especially disappointing.
“We didn’t just apply for our own region and our own community, but for the New England and Barwon commands,” he said.
“We know from talking with law enforcement officers that the benefits of having this resource locally far outweigh any of the negatives, which are only the cost of forming and maintaining those units.”
Cr Webb said it was obvious the government “hadn’t done their homework,” after they cited a drug-and-firearm dog and dog handler based in Armidale as a reason for denying a canine presence in Tamworth.
The dog and handler had been out of action all year, he said.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said he would also continue to push and lobby for extra crime prevention resources.
“The minister’s got his priorities, but we’ll keep knocking on his door,” he said.
“I’ll continue to advocate at every opportunity I get ... let’s reinvigorate our efforts.”