A rejuvenated specialist police unit will hit the streets of Tamworth from today with crooks and known troublemakers squarely in its sights.
Acting superintendent Inspector Chris Taylor announced yesterday that the Oxley police command’s Target Action Group (TAG), had been bolstered from a three-man team to a unit of six, including an experienced operational sergeant and five constables.
Inspector Taylor said the unit would target offenders on warrants, those on bail, repeat offenders and known troublemakers and would provide a proactive policing resource to bridge the gap between detectives and general duties police.
“The object is to get in their face ... we are saying if you are doing the wrong thing, we are going to be right in your face,” he said.
The boost to the unit – after about two years of operating on a skeleton staff – was announced by Inspector Taylor along with Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Tamworth mayor Col Murray.
The two leaders said the mobilisation of a full strength target action group should bring results and importantly give the public renewed confidence that crime was not a runaway horse.
Inspector Taylor said he fully understood community anger over recent crime but police were resolute in their fight.
“I am very confident that with the TAG unit, and our general duties police and detectives, we are going to have a very positive effect,” he said.
He said the six bodies in the new unit were all new positions and denied that the boost was simply moving figures around.
He said the latest intake of 12 probationary constables had allowed the move.
“We are not shuffling figures,” he said.
The new unit will be led by Sergeant Stu Campbell, a former general duties sergeant, described
by Inspector Taylor as a very experienced policeman, with good local knowledge.
“He knows the crims and he knows the crooks,” he said.
Mayor Murray said he believed the community was entitled to have some comfort and relief in the wake of the community anger over crime levels,
and the previous public meetings demanding action.
“It’s just great we can find ourselves in this space,” Mr Murray said.
He said it would allow local police to do the jobs the community expected of them, but within budget constraints.
Mr Murray said he was also aware of public perceptions that the judiciary was allowing offenders to get bail too easily and giving them the opportunity to commit more crimes while on bail.
“We have limited opportunities to influence the judicial system; we have done, and will continue to do, everything we possibly can, but there’s a direct message here and the cops are in a better position to counter forays like that.”
Mr Anderson said the unit played a critical role in supporting police in the crime fight and its proactive policing could actually prevent crime and collar criminals before they ended up in court.
“We can stop them before that. This is trying to get in front of them and saying ‘we are going to bust you’; it’s that step.”
Inspector Taylor said the Oxley area command was over its authorised strength in police numbers but was hoping to see that total boosted even further from the next graduating class in November.
He was certain the unit would bring an improvement in public confidence about police arrest rates.
“But we are hungry for information. We want people to report what they see, we need more information,” he said.
“Many might be on the periphery of the wrong side of the law, but know things and not purposefully hiding that information.”
Mr Anderson said the message from the TAG unit was quite clear: “If you step out of line there’s a pretty good chance there will be a policeman on your shoulder.”
Cr Murray said he encouraged the community to provide police with information about crime and criminals.