Funding to fight Valley's malicious damage hotspots

SCREEN planting, bus advertising and a 'kick-about space' will be implemented in coming months in an effort to curb incidents of malicious damage in the Clarence Valley.

The Clarence Valley Council has received close to $50,000 from the Department of Justice through the Crime Prevention Grant Program to run a local project called Just Don't, which aims to increase community awareness of what malicious damage is and how to report offences to the Police Assistance Line.

While the project is still in the planning stages, a working group comprised of council and partner organisations including police, chamber of commerce groups and Maclean Neighbourhood Watch held their first meeting last month.

Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community director Des Schroder said the project would have a focus on education, resource development, advertising and access control.

As well as radio, news- paper and bus panel advertising, the planting of 300 plants at Bob Liddiard Park in South Grafton and the development of a kickabout space with two goal posts, the council will also conduct informal safety audits of various streets, parks and places across the Valley.

The message is "Malicious damage is a crime, everybody pays…report it, don't ignore it. Call 131 444".

Mr Schroder said it was important because malicious damage was one of the most under reported offences, especially in regional and rural areas.

"Specific access control measures have been implemented for Bob Liddiard Park, South Grafton as statistics indicated that this was a hotspot for malicious damage offences," he said.

The news comes after at least four Yamba businesses sustained damage after a series of attempted break-ins last week.

A restaurant on Coldstream St, was broken into between 9.30pm on Wednesday and 8am on Thursday, and the contents of its till were stolen.

Police have asked anyone with any information in relation to suspicious activity prior, during and after the incident to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 0000.

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