Carnarvon residents in state of fear over youth crime wave says local MP Vince Catania

Michael RobertsMidwest Times
Nationals MP Vince Catania has slammed the State Government over its lack of response to crime rates in Carnarvon.
Camera IconNationals MP Vince Catania has slammed the State Government over its lack of response to crime rates in Carnarvon. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Carnarvon residents are scared to walk the street at night as youth crime continues to spiral out of control, according to its local member of State Parliament.

Member for North West Central Vince Catania said there had been little progress made on curbing crimes rates in the Gascoyne town since community members signed a petition in December calling on the State Government to take action.

Mr Catania said residents were left shocked after a young woman was reportedly assaulted by a gang of youths just before Christmas.

“If that was anywhere else it would be all over the news,” he said.

“The fear that has set in the community if you are a young female or elderly people, is people don’t feel safe in leaving the home.”

Mid West-Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer said the assault was “alarming”, but wasn’t part of a wider trend.

“That has been the only violent incident I know of at this point,” he said.

About 300 Carnarvon residents gathered to petition the State Government to intervene on youth crime.
Camera IconAbout 300 Carnarvon residents gathered to petition the State Government to intervene on youth crime. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

Last month Carnarvon police arrested nine people who were charged with a 71 offences, including burglary, stealing and criminal damage.

Police arrested three “prolific” offenders who were still in custody, according to Supt Beer.

“That had an immediate effect (on the crime rate),” he said.

“That said, after a short time, crime started to trickle in again. Police up there are working fairly hard to apprehend and arrest those kids responsible.”

Supt Beer said there were more officers stationed in Carnarvon than there had been for a long time.

He said any solution required a whole-of-community approach.

“There are too many kids wandering the street when they should be tucked at home with their parents,” he said.

“I’d be asking what parents and families are doing to look after their children.

“Not only are those children on the street at-risk of becoming offenders, they’re also at-risk of being harmed themselves.”

Mid West-Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer.
Camera IconMid West-Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer. Credit: Phoebe Pin/Geraldton Guardian

Carnarvon Chamber of Commerce president Paul Dixon, who also runs a security company, said crime rates calmed somewhat over the Christmas-New Year period but were starting to ramp up again.

“The police department have done a tremendous job over the past fortnight or so doing away with some of the serial offenders,” he said.

While a concerted effort has been made to tackle crime in Perth hotspots like Northbridge, Mr Catania said the State Government had stayed silent on the recurring issues in Carnarvon.

“Nothing has changed,” he said.

“We’ve seen the Government put resources into Northbridge, we’ve seen the Government put resources into the Kimberley and Newman, yet the Government is failing the people of Carnarvon by failing to acknowledge we have a problem like those towns.

“The solution is the Government needs to have a specialised taskforce that comes into Carnarvon and provides the support that’s needed right across government departments.

“We need to stop this cycle where we aren’t dealing with the problems.”

In response, Police Minister Paul Papalia said an expansion of the WA Police Force would give officers the resources they needed.

“The Commissioner of Police appropriately determines the deployment of officers according to operational needs, not politicians,” he said.

“I’m sure the Commissioner and his command team continue to review the best deployment of their officers in response to crime trends.”

Carnarvon Police and Shire president Eddie Smith were contacted for comment.

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