TAMWORTH’S top two political figures have agreed to a crime crisis meeting in the wake of what they’ve called disgraceful and alarming statistics about crime in the city.
State MP Kevin Anderson yesterday called the crime summit for Wednesday saying the latest figures were so alarming more action needed to be taken.
And Tamworth mayor Col Murray wants to know whether the level of crime is homegrown, or has been imported, via the migration of criminals into Tamworth.
Mr Anderson has called the crisis meeting with the mayor and Oxley top cop, Superintendent Clint Pheeney, saying the community would not accept that despite extra police and a reinstated Target Action Group, Tamworth continued to show poor results when it came to tackling crime.
Superintendent Pheeney said police continued to be frustrated by crime statistics, but had also echoed concerns shared by many – “that a significant proportion of offenders, particularly young offenders, following charging with offences by police, have subsequently been released by courts on bail only to commit further offences whilst on bail”. There were increases in 13 of 17 main crime categories in the past 12 months in the Oxley police district, which covers the council areas of Tamworth, Gunnedah and Liverpool Plains.
Crisis meeting called after ‘disgraceful’ crime figures
By Jacqueline van Aanholt
TAMWORTH mayor Col Murray says statistics released on Thursday that show no improvement to the city’s crime problems are a “disgrace”.
A crisis meeting will be held on Wednesday with Cr Murray, member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson and Oxley Local Area Commander Clint Pheeney to determine what action can be taken next.
Cr Murray said the figures released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) on Thursday, which show rates of crime in the city have increased significantly across 15 of the 18 major crime categories over the past 12 months, were “not good enough”.
“I guess they tell the story that the problems go deeper than the number of police and that there are a number of other factors that need to be addressed with immediacy,” Cr Murray said.
Cr Murray said “getting to the root of the problem” would be at the core of the crisis talks.
“It’s become clear we need to better understand what’s driving the increases,” he said.
“We need to know if the crime is homegrown, if it has migrated here or been introduced.
“The new statistics are very un-Tamworth and the fact we are going against statewide trends in a number of categories is very worrying.”
Cr Murray said Wednesday’s meeting would be a “clean slate”.
“I think when we start, any and all considerations will be on the table,” he said.
He suggested moves made to date to combat the city’s issues hadn’t worked.
“This has gone beyond the realms of another public meeting and we need to clearly define where we go and what we do from here.”
The BOCSAR stats and reports of more car thefts and break and enters to homes over the past few days aren’t the only indication there’s not much light at the end of the city’s crime tunnel.
A consultant engaged by Tamworth Regional Council recently provided council with comprehensive research into local statistics from a wealth of resources and the situation was similar, according to Cr Murray.
“They all support there is a huge problem,” Cr Murray said.
“That information suggested we need to look at how other services are working in the region, things like how does the Department of Housing manage their caseloads, are families being relocated to Tamworth for access to services and what role is the Department of Community Services playing.”
Cr Murray said a discussion with such services needed to be had to work out how everyone could work together.
“To this point it’s a disgrace and would appear some of those organisations are reluctant to come together to try and resolve some of these problems, because at the end of the day, at the root of all of this are some obvious social problems,” he said.
He conceded the problem was not just “Tamworth-centric” but that our city was an anomaly.
“Other regional cities are having these problems but the statistics suggest ours are at a whole other level,” he said.
Cr Murray said he believed a small number of people were responsible for a magnitude of problems in the city.
“We have provided extra police, reinstated the TAG unit, the police have doubled their efforts but the figures still show poor results,” he said.
“We need to figure out our next course of action because the community will not accept
figures like these.”