By Rebecca Fraser
NARRE Warren residents are overwhelmingly concerned with crimes by and against youths.
New research commissioned by the Police Association has also revealed that residents are most concerned about drag racing and hooning, vandalism and graffiti, assaults and bashings, gatecrashing resulting in bashings, youth gangs, and weapons like knives and machetes.
The Australian Research Group (ARG) conducted the research in May with the study based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research through face-to-face focus groups and questionnaires conducted by telephone of Narre Warren residents.
Identical research was also conducted in Ballarat.
Other key findings were that 61 per cent of Narre Warren respondents thought crime levels had not declined in the past few years in their area and 88 per cent of all respondents considered that crime had either increased or had not reduced in the past three to four years.
Seventy-four per cent of respondents said the main reason for the increase in crime was ‘not enough local police’ or ‘not enough police on duty at nights and weekends.’
Another 56 per cent said crime had increased or not reduced because there was not enough for kids to do, and 91 per cent of Narre Warren respondents said there was a need for more police to be recruited in Victoria.
Police Association secretary Senior Sergeant Paul Mullet said the research confirmed what the association had been saying for a long time.
“Growing communities like Narre Warren are not getting the level of safety and protection they deserve due to a lack of police resources,” Sen Sgt Mullet said.
“In 2002, independent research conducted by the respected National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) found that the District of Casey required an additional 39 police officers in order for police stations in the area to provide their communities with both a proactive and reactive policing service.
“Casey is still well short of that requirement.”
Opposition police spokesperson Kim Wells said violent crime had risen by 23 per cent since the Bracks Government came into power and this was a direct result of not having enough police on the front line.
Mr Wells said he believed law and order would certainly be a big issue in the upcoming state elections and residents were frustrated that there were not enough police out in the community.
Police Minister Tim Holding said recent Victoria Police figures showed there had in fact been a significant drop in crime in the City of Casey.
Mr Holding said the figures were also a tribute to hard work undertaken everyday by Victoria Police.
He said since 1999, the number of uniform police in Narre Warren had increased by 24 per cent and the number of detectives had increased by 16 per cent, while the number of police in the City of Casey had increased by 60 per cent since 1999.
By Rebecca Fraser