By GEORGE CRETU*
REDUCING the fear of crime and making sure members of our community are safe and secure as they go about their daily lives are important to all areas of policing. One of our basic aims is to make sure families and individuals can have confidence that when you leave for the day or go to bed at night, that you and your property are secure and as you go about your daily lives you are free from assaults and thuggery. For my police at Bridgewater Police Division, which has responsibility for four municipalities including Brighton, this is no exception. One of my roles is to watch the crime reports and trends for Brighton and monitor broader community feeling about community safety. One way I get a feel for how Brighton is travelling is to compare our reported crime statistics against other policing areas across southern Tasmania.
Statistics are fraught with inaccuracy and variation but across the board they do provide an indication one we are travelling and what are the main areas of concern. As has been more widely publicised in the media, the total offences being committed across Tasmania has risen in the past 12 months, though the totals remain below the five-year average.
Brighton has not been immune from this rise however the below comparison based on reported home burglaries over the first two months of the current financial year illustrates the rise in this area is not at alarming levels particularly when compared to other areas in Southern Tasmania.
|Division||2016-17 YTD||2017-18 YTD||Change|
|Suburban Division 1||18||37||+19||105.6%|
|Suburban Division 2||12||15||+3||25.0%|
|Suburban Division 3||8||7||-1||-12.5%|
|Suburban Division 4||17||28||+11||64.7%|
|Southern District Total||72||107||+35||48.6%|
Of course, 20 burglaries is 20 too many and Bridgewater Police works hard to reduce that crime. One positive aspect is that we have, at the time of writing, solved around one third of these burglaries and the offenders have been held to account. Of note, over this period Bridgewater Police attended more than 50 family violence reports and more than 60 child welfare matters. These remain our most concerning issues.
Shoplifting and break-ins and vandalism at schools and community centres is also a current problem, along with wheelie bin fires, particularly in the Herdsman’s Cove area. We have increased our patrols and investigative activities in those areas and that has recently paid dividends with arrests for several attacks on schools and a community centre. Disappointingly these were all youths, both girls and boys.
I’ve written before about the responsibility of families and parents to control the conduct of their kids in the community. Sadly we are still finding that we are having to step in and apply the laws, such as the arrest powers contained in Youth Justice Legislation, to protect the community from on-going offending by kids. Placing a young person on bail with a strict curfew is something noone wants to see but unfortunately, someone has to take control.
On a positive note, we do have some great organisations in the area such as the PCYC and other youth-focused groups that work very hard to divert kids away from offending. Those who end up offending and exposed to bail and other sanction-based approaches remain in the minority.
To report vandalism or even mobs of kids up to no good in the middle of the night, the contact numbers for Tasmania Police are 131444 for police assistance and 000 for emergencies.
*Insp George Cretu is Inspector in charge of Bridgewater Police Division