REACTIONS to Thursday night’s Tamworth crime law and order meeting were mixed, though primarily people agreed it was time for more action and less talk.
A number of residents who spoke to The Leader expressed concerns that the crowd gathered was much smaller than the first meeting and those in attendance were older.
Others suggested those who did not attend the meeting only had themselves to blame for the problem.
Sarah, who did attend the meeting, said the lack of attendance was “a great disappointment”.
“One cannot complain about the crime in Tamworth if one does not stand up and fight when required,” she said.
It was a sentiment shared by many.
Others questioned what help the $50,000 in funding for the Tamworth Crime Prevention Working Group would achieve.
One Leader reader said “These peanuts do that much damage in a night!” He went on to suggest that telling magistrates to get serious needed to be a priority.
“Tell them to get serious,” he said. “That would go a long way to fixing the problem and, please, no more gab fests ... just do it!”
Former Tamworth City councillor Esther Halliday agreed.
“It’s obvious now we need action, not words,” Mrs Halliday said.
“The statistics support what we all know; there are big problems.”
Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray said he too was disappointed with the smaller turn-out.
“I really had hoped for about double the number of people, closer to 800,” he said.
Cr Murray also noticed the number of younger people and families absent, despite the fact he said he believed the meeting had been constructive.
“Our goal for the meeting was to ensure Attorney-General Greg Smith heard what people from the community thought the problems were and how they were affecting people,” he said.
“He was forced to answer a few very difficult questions and he ducked a few, too.
“But I honestly believe Mr Smith left with a better understanding of them and now he will be in a position where he can’t pretend he didn’t hear what they were.”
Cr Murray said the discussion had moved a long way from the “police bashing” that happened at the December meeting.
“I think we’ve come a long way to recognise that the police are doing what they can with the resources they have and that the problem is a lot to do with the time not matching the crime and the constraints of the current laws,” he said.
Cr Murray suggested the $50,000 in funding announced would be used to implement the suggested night bus and possibly some more CCTV in the city.
“The crime prevention working group and police will work together to determine a way to best spend that money and target crime and anti-social behaviour,” he said.
In terms of where to from here Cr Murray said it was a situation of waiting to see what the community asked for.
He said he expected a few announcements between now and the end of the year from the state government may help to answer some of the questions left open at the end of Thursday night’s meeting.
“The response to the Parsons’ Report and the review of the Young Offenders Act should see some more changes brought in,” he said.
“On a personal note I’m keen to continue to get council and the community to support the police association to achieve some more of the numbers they need.”
The community voices its concerns at forum:
A victim of a number of crimes – her home has been broken into more than once and her car was stolen.
“We need to change the mentality that this is funny.
“The reality is that when your home or your car is broken into it ruins your life, you can’t sleep, and you don’t feel safe in your castle.
“Being a victim ruins your life and it’s hard to get over. If you do the crime you should do the time.”
Mrs Murray suggested to Attorney- General Greg Smith that laws needed to be changed because there were no consequences.
Mr Smith told Mrs Murray the maximum penalty for a break, enter and steal offence was a 14-year sentence.
“I agree someone breaking into your home is frightening.It’s happened to me,” he said.
“Yes the reality is that very few people are given the full sentence of 14 years.
“But rest assured eventually all of the people responsible get caught.”
This local tradesman is all for simple solutions.
“You stand here and you say locking people up doesn’t work,” he said to Mr Smith.
“Punishment is necessary. We’re all here because problems in our town are getting worse. Leniency toward these people is insane. The solution is not that hard; the government needs to do something.”
Tamworth Regional Council election candidate who suggested the solution is giving young people something to contribute to, be proud and take ownership of.
“Something that works in other countries and places is giving these young people who offend a place to be proud of,” she said.
“Other cities give them a community garden to work in and contribute to, maybe that’s something we can do.”
An 83-year-oldTamworth resident concerned about his rights if threatened in a home invasion.
“A man’s home is his castle. What are my rights and what can I do to protect my wife and my possessions?”
Mr Smith told Mr Henry that the law stated whatever he did, should he be the victim of a home invasion or similar had to be “within reason”.
“If you are in fear of your life you are entitled to defend yourself,” Mr Smith said.
“Obviously it has to be a reasonable response to the threat that may have been presented.
“Then if it goes to court a prosecutor will have to decide if you did or didn’t act in a reasonable way of self defence.”
Oxley Local Area Command commander, Superintendent Clint Pheeney suggested any member of the public who wanted to know what their rights were in terms of defending themselves, their home and their property, should call the Tamworth Police Station for advice.
“We are more than happy to explain to you what your rights are in those situations,” Superintendent Pheeney said.
A self-confessed former wild child, now Tamworth pensioner.
“I was a kid in the days police were big and wore big boots and when you did something wrong and they caught you, you were terrified of the consequences,” he said.
“The problem is now when you do something wrong you have your wrists slapped and that’s it. It doesn’t stop you from doing the same thing again.
“You (directed to Mr Smith) talk about educating people to fix the
problem, but what’s your plan to do that.”
Mr Taylor also highlighted the importance of digital radio encryption being a priority for the Oxley LAC.
“I can guarantee you when your police get called, the crooks are a step ahead of them because they all have scanners; they know they’re coming, because they can hear you.”