MID North Coast Local Area Command (LAC) offered a group of community representatives a fascinating behind the scenes look at policing.
The Community Awareness of Policing Program (CAPP) was launched in Port Macquarie as a way of providing greater insight into the intricacies of modern day policing as well as the strategies to reduce crime across the LAC region.
The day long program was attended by Biripi elder Uncle Bill O’Brien; lifeguards James Turnham and Brent Wilkinson; Alistair Flower from Hastings Liquor Accord; journalist Matt Attard; Port News editor Tracey Fairhurst; Neville Parsons of Holiday Coast Credit Union; Alan Gordon CEO of Hastings Co-op and Hastings Secondary College principal Lorraine Haddon.
The Mid North Coast LAC is a geographically challenging region, covering an area of 8558 sq km south to Johns River, north to Valla Beach and inland to Ginger’s Creek and Bowraville. There are more than 123,000 residents living in the LAC which spans three local government areas. This equates to one officer for every 770 residents.
There are 166 assigned police in the LAC including 20 highway patrol officers, a dog squad, specialist investigators, licensing officers and administration staff.
Sergeant Elisha Campbell of the intelligence unit said crime is dictated by social and economic factors over which police have no control.
The two major focus areas for mid north coast officers is domestic violence and alcohol-related crime.
“While police patrols increase community confidence, it does not reduce crime,” Sgt Campbell explained.
“Targeting offenders reduces crime. We have experienced a shift from reactive policing to proactive policing by introducing crime prevention, youth liaison, aboriginal liaison and domestic violence officers.
“We also use statistics, mapping and intelligence information to target crime areas.”
A strategy proving successful is the roll out of the Suspect Target Management Plan which hones in on repeat offenders, their behaviours and reducing their potential to commit crime.
“There is a correlation between who we target and a reduction in break and enters for example,” Sgt Campbell said.
This targeted strategy focuses on high risk people placed on curfew bail, those released from prison and child sex offenders.