Louder calls for drug unit in Tamworth

THE call has become a roar. 

Sunday’s armed hold-up of a Tamworth store – the latest in a spate of terrifying robberies in the city – has strengthened calls for the state government to provide a drug unit and drug dog to local police.

It comes on the back of a council, police and community campaign for more drug resources, following four armed hold-ups and a string of break-and-enters in recent months in Tamworth.

Store owner Barry Bourne, whose Hi-way Superette and North Tamworth Store have both been held up since September, said the situation had become “out of control”.

He’s been forced to list his North Tamworth business for sale, amid fears he was jeopardising his staff’s safety.

“It’s had a major impact on us and I can’t be in two places to protect my staff, so we’re having to sell one of the businesses,” Mr Bourne said.

“A drug dog and drug unit would help clean these scum out.

“The people doing armed hold-ups in broad daylight have to be doing it for drugs, there’s no other explanation.

“The situation is controlling our lives at the moment.”

Mr Bourne’s daughter, Renee, was so alarmed by the crime wave she launched a petition to be presented to state Parliament.

Former Tamworth police officer and current member of the city’s crime prevention working group, Mark Hamlin, said country areas were being discriminated against when it came to police resourcing.

“In Sydney, when you call for back-up, cars come from everywhere,” Mr Hamlin said.

“In the country it’s so much harder to get resources. The government is just focused on the big cities.

“If we could eliminate drug addicts in Tamworth, break-and-enters would drop by 70 per cent overnight and domestic violence and street assaults would halve. It’s just got to stop.”

He said a dedicated drug unit, with six officers working solely on drug-related crime, would put a “huge dent” in crime.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said he was compiling a case for the new resources to be put to Police Minister Mike Gallacher.

“Just because we got knocked back last time doesn’t mean I will take no for an answer,” Mr Anderson said.

“We need to build a case and police are pulling together figures of every drug-related incident.

“We believe we will have a very strong case.”

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