Oxley Local Area Command police, Tamworth council and state MP Kevin Anderson met with members of the public to discuss crime concerns at the first a community engagement day

TACKLING CRIME: Tamworth police officer Jenny Ridley, Tamworth Regional Council councillor Russell Webb, Inspector Jeff Budd, council's Phil Betts and state MP Kevin Anderson at the community engagement day. Photo: Peter Hardin
TACKLING CRIME: Tamworth police officer Jenny Ridley, Tamworth Regional Council councillor Russell Webb, Inspector Jeff Budd, council's Phil Betts and state MP Kevin Anderson at the community engagement day. Photo: Peter Hardin

TRUANCY was the topic of the day at the Oxley Police District community engagement day.

Officers were out in force to meet with locals and chat about their concerns on Tuesday.

Chief Inspector Jeff Budd said a number of school students were seen on the streets during the event.

"If kids aren’t engaged in education it’s a slippery slope from that point forward,” he said.

“We saw over a dozen kids here today who should be in school and that’s a big concern to us.

“They’re clearly not sick because they’re walking around – so how big is the problem in Tamworth and how does that affect crime?”

The greater majority of property crime in Tamworth is perpetrated by juveniles, Inspector Budd said, and combating that is the challenge.

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Police are working with Tamworth Regional Council and state MP Kevin Anderson to reduce crime, with the installation of CCTV in the CBD hailed as a successful deterrent.

Community members have reported car break-ins and unknown persons loitering around homes as concerns, Mr Anderson said.

“We talk about this all the time with police, about what we need to do to stay on top of the crooks that are doing this rubbish,” he said.

“These are things people are reporting to me, we’re saying report it to police because it’s the only way they can respond and fix the problems.

“People talking to the police and asking what they’re doing to drive down crime gives police the opportunity to explain they are putting more patrols out, running covert operations and locking up the ring leaders.

“The fish rots from the head, so if you can cut off the head the rest stops – that’s what police are doing behind the scenes.”

This is the first event of its kind in Tamworth, outside of Coffee with a Cop, and police hope to make it a quarterly exercise to better connect with the public.

Inspector Budd said in bigger regional centres it can be tough to get the time to meet with the community one-on-one outside the police station.

“We’re spread a bit thinner and we’re busier so we don’t always get the opportunity to have those sit downs and introduce ourselves,” he said.

“The community might see us doing our functions during the day, they might see us on TV, but they don’t get a chance to talk to us about what worries them so it’s important.”

The crime rate is down significantly in Tamworth from five or six years ago, Inspector Budd said, but members of the public should still be vigilant in reporting incidents to the police.

In incidents where people witness suspicious behaviour, Inspector Budd said individuals should not attempt to intervene.

“Common sense should prevail, you don’t know who you’re dealing with and we’ll respond as quick as we possibly can,” he said.

“Ultimately, the community has to talk to us and they have to report stuff.

“Even if I say the crime rate has gone down, and it has significantly, it doesn’t mean people are feeling safer.”

The community engagement day took place at the Robert Street Shopping Centre on Tuesday, and police hope to make it a quarterly event.

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