Fix youth crime problems: Nats

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
The Nationals WA party members Nick Fardell, Vince Catania, Colin de Grussa, Mia Davies, Jacqui Boydell and Terry Redman at Woodside's Bay Village site in Karratha.
Camera IconThe Nationals WA party members Nick Fardell, Vince Catania, Colin de Grussa, Mia Davies, Jacqui Boydell and Terry Redman at Woodside's Bay Village site in Karratha. Credit: Shannon Beattie

The State Government has been probed over social issues in Newman after a spate of youth crime and vehicle thefts during the wet season.

The Telegraph reported the worrying crime statistics recently, prompting questions by WA Nationals deputy leader Jacqui Boydell.

Speaking in State Parliament last week, she questioned Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, who was representing Police Minister Michelle Roberts.

Ms Boydell asked if Target 120, a $20.5 million initiative to prevent youth reoffending, would be expanded to include Newman.

The program began in mid-2018 in Bunbury, and involved a multi-agency net of support for up to 300 young people and families. It was expanded to Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Kununurra and Mirrabooka in September.

The program involved helping participants seek mentoring, and housing, with on-country tours extra-curricular activities such as football or basketball being offered as rewards for going to school.

When the program expansion was announced in September, Premier Mark McGowan lauded its success and innovation.

“When we can effectively support at-risk young people and their families, it benefits all Western Australians — they can experience less crime, and early intervention costs taxpayers less than a young person coming into contact with law enforcement and the prison system down the line,” he said.

On questions raised about Target 120 being expanded to include Newman among other initiatives, Ms Roberts said police in Newman were doing a lot to engage local youth and to ensure they were safe.

“This included the hugely successful Night Fields program, which includes the provision of hot meals, fruit and water to young people,” she said.

“Police will continue to work with local government, the community sector and the business community to address issues of antisocial behaviour.” However, Ms Boydell said the rise of car theft and general crime in Newman in recent months was a major concern.

“It shows the Labor Government hasn’t done enough to address the antisocial issues in the town,” she said.

“In the last three months, we know that there have been 46 car thefts, with 35 juvenile convictions for car theft recorded.

“ In a town the size of Newman, these are very worrying statistics.

“The police are doing a magnificent job in very trying circumstances.

“The State Government needs to step up and invest more to stem this tide of juvenile crime.”

Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Ken Baston also called on the Government’s support.

“The level of juvenile offending in some North West communities is deeply troubling and I am concerned the government does not understand the level of anxiety and frustration felt by working residents of these communities,” he said.

“Members of our communities who have experienced their homes and businesses broken into, cars stolen and personal safety threatened deserve to know that the Government is taking matters seriously,” he said.

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