Crime strategy paying off

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Email Jakeb Waddell
Kimberley District Superintendent Greg Crofts.
Camera IconKimberley District Superintendent Greg Crofts. Credit: Jakeb Waddell.

The region’s most senior officer has lauded as an “undeniable success” a strategy executed by WA Police to increase the number of officers in the Kimberley to target alarming rates of juvenile crimes.

Seven officers were relocated to Broome from April 26, as well as four in both Kununurra and Halls Creek, in response to a youth crime spree troubling the areas.

A majority of the extra police relieved the Kimberley-based officers of their patrol duties to enable them to work exclusively in youth engagement.

The additional police were due to be withdrawn from Kununurra and Halls Creek by the end of last week but will remain in Broome throughout June. Kimberley District Superintendent Greg Crofts said the changes in the communities were instantly noticed.

“By boosting our patrol inquiry staff, the officers we already have in the region have been able to engage more with the kids across the three different locations,” he said.

“Although we don’t have the statistics as of yet, there has certainly been a terrific reduction in youth offending.

“The problem areas we’ve seen recently with burglaries and stolen cars haven’t quite zeroed, but it is very close to it.

“Every time we are able to dedicate to staff to the youth engagement space we see this reduction in crime because these kids have someone to talk to and share their stories with.”

Supt Crofts said the communities still had a role to play in helping to engage juveniles.

“Not enough community members are engaging with kids and I say that everywhere across the region,” he said.

“There are divides that you see on things like social media, and a lot of these kids read that and feel like they’re hated by people or sections of the community.

“All these towns own these kids — these are their kids. I don’t know why they continue to lambaste them instead of getting to know them or just saying hello.”

The Broome Advertiser reported last month that more than 1000 Broome residents had signed a petition calling for harsher penalties when sentencing young criminals.

The high crime rate also caught the attention of the State Government, who committed millions towards the issue in the Budget, including $900,000 for a Kimberley Juvenile Justice Strategy to find alternatives to detention, $2 million for a new PCYC in Kununurra and $1.3 million for projects at the existing Broome PCYC.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts said she supported the increase in officers to the region by the Commissioner of Police.

“The McGowan Government is strongly focused on crime prevention and diversionary programs aimed at reducing juvenile offending in the Kimberley,” she said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails