Extra police tackle youth crime
TWO youth liaison officers have been redirected from Coffs Harbour to Grafton to help tackle a spike in youth crime in South Grafton.
Effective immediately Senior Constable Jo Brooker and Senior Constable Daniel Usher will spend two days a week in the Clarence Valley.
Speaking at the public meeting held in South Grafton on Wednesday, Snr Const Usher said the goal was to engage with the community and get identified young offenders into a program.
While the details of the program are yet to be released, Snr Const Usher said police would continue to work closely with the community to address the ongoing problem.
"We try to work out what the underlying issues are, to steer young people away from crime," he said.
"In Coffs we work with young offenders and their families to get them back in school, or into counselling.
"It takes time but we are trying."
He said a PCYC, similar to the one operating in Coffs Harbour, may benefit young people in South Grafton, potentially serving as a base for youth liaison officers to operate from.
However he stressed the drive for a PCYC would need to come from the community, not the police.
Responding to the concerns of frustrated residents and businesses at the meeting, Snr Const Brooker explained how the Young Offenders Act works.
"We don't make the law; we work with what we're given," she said.
"The Act is set by parliament and for young offenders aged between 10-14 years police have to prove the young person knows what they are doing is seriously wrong and that's not easy to prove.
"We need evidence and then we investigate; we take action within the boundaries of the law.
"What happens in court is out of our control."
Snr Const Brooker called on victims of crime to be prepared to make a formal statement with police and stand together as a community if the problem was to be resolved. In most cases juveniles were given up to three cautions.
"The next step is a conference run by juvenile justice," she said.