CRIME concerns saw people lining up in droves to sign a petition for more police officers on the ground.
It’s a campaign the Tamworth NSW Police Association branch has been pushing for over a month, with demands for dozens of extra cops to manage the district.
There aren’t enough services to meet the needs in rural communities, Nemingha resident Elizabeth Gourley said.
“In rural Australia, sadly we have increased crime and we need the support of local police and more people on the ground to help them do their job,” she said.
“I think sadly in rural areas statistics show we have a drug problem with our young people and that’s something that needs addressing – obviously more police will help with that.”
The petition calls for 2500 more police in the state and at least another two dozen for Tamworth. It’ll be taken to the state government in the coming weeks.
Drugs and drug-related crime were a common concern for residents signing the petition on Thursday, a view that aligns with police calls for more bodies to deal with the growing ice use epidemic.
Police Association representative Jeff Budd said he feels government isn’t listening to what regional communities need.
“We know and we say the Oxley Police District in Tamworth needs in excess of 30 police just to deal with the policing problems we have now,” he said.
“We have a massive problem with ice in this community, it seems like it’s a Medusa you cut one head off and another one pops up straight away – we need the resources to target that.”
Tamworth councillors, police association members and state election candidates headed to Fitzroy Plaza on Thursday to meet with the public and discuss concerns.
Married to a policeman, Chloe Holmes knows all too well the stress that comes with the job.
“He’s in rural crime and he’s definitely seen the effects of it,” she said.
“Particularly at the moment he deals a lot with ice, drugs and the effects of that – I know how short staffed they are and what a big issue it is.”
Members of Tamworth Regional Council’s Crime Prevention Working Group were all hands on deck to collect signatures on Thursday.
There is a case for lobbying the government for more resources to deal with drug use as a health issue also, crime group chair Russell Webb said.
“There’s probably a two-pronged approach needed to deal with the ice issue,” he said.
“There needs to be more law enforcement on the ground and policy to manage it before it becomes a problem – ice is not the only issue we face.”
The Back the Blue petition is also available online and police will use it to lobby for more resources.