Katherine MP defends police response to crime 'spike'

CRIME SPIKE: A security video image of youths attempting to break into a Katherine home  from late last year.
CRIME SPIKE: A security video image of youths attempting to break into a Katherine home from late last year.

KATHERINE MP Sandra Nelson has warned that social media vigilantism will not provide solutions to a spike in Katherine crime.

“I absolutely understand the fear and frustration felt by people who have been the victims of property crime in Katherine,” Ms Nelson said today.

“I know people, friends and family members that have been victims of property crime, nobody should ever have to feel insecure about their safety while in their own home,” she said.

“While no one should have to be a target of crime, Katherine residents need to play their part in ensuring we take a common-sense approach to both minimising the risk of being targeted and coming up with a solution that leads to a safer community.

“Unfortunately, data shows the majority of properties and vehicles that are broken into in Katherine are not secured, which does nothing but act as a future incentive to opportunistic offenders.”

Ms Nelson said some people used social media to blame police and talk about taking matters into their own hands, rather than using the time to ensure their property was secured.

“Threats of vigilantism on social media are not the answer to the spate of opportunistic property crimes that occurred in Katherine over the Christmas and New Year period,” she said.

Year-on-year statistics show crime against property in Katherine dropped 7.5 per cent in the 12 months to October 31, 2016 but Ms Nelson said she acknowledged there had been a spike in break-ins and attempted break-ins, especially of residential properties in Katherine East, over the past month.

However, Ms Nelson said a whole-of-community approach to tackling the problem, not hyped social media commentary and criticism of police, was required if a sustainable solution was to be found.

In December, Ms Nelson rode along with police officers on a night patrol to get a first-hand look at the problem.

Ms Nelson said she was working with local police and Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Michael Gunner to ensure there were adequate resources on the ground to allow a timely response to reports of crime.

“Our police are doing an amazing job in often extremely difficult circumstances,” Ms Nelson said.

“Commander Matt Hollamby advised me that Katherine Police formed a local operation that quickly apprehended a group of youth responsible for the Christmas/New Year crime spike. Since then, break-ins have abated in Katherine”.

“I think the criticism they cop, especially on social media, is often unfair and based on speculation and misinformation.

“I am in weekly contact with Northern Command Commander Matt Hollamby about the crime situation in Katherine, and I have been lobbying Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who is responsible for the Police, Fire and Emergency Services portfolio, about the need for a continued increase in police resourcing for our town. In mid-December, Katherine Police Station received 14 new officers from the latest recruit and ACPO squads.

“Vigilantism is not the answer, and I implore Katherinites to recognise that reaching a successful outcome will be a complex process that all stakeholders, including community members, youth services providers, police and the judicial system, need to be actively involved in.

“This is not a problem with a simple solution, nor is it one that any stakeholder can fix on their own.

This problem requires more than knee jerk reactions and off the cuff responses. I am pleased to hear the announcement that a police taskforce dedicated to addressing juvenile crime will be introduced. This program is loosely based on a model that NZ has used to great success.”