POST Office Lane’s reputation as a crime hot spot may be more about perception than reality, says Orange’s top police officer.
Canobolas Local Area Command Superintendent David Driver told Orange City Council that police had introduced a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the incidents of crime in the area however public perception of the lane remained negative.
Councillor Reg Kidd told the Central Western Daily that even if there had been a reduction in the amount of serious crime in the lane, people were still becoming the victims of anti-social behaviours on a regular basis.
“I’ve witnessed bad behaviour and the intimidation of people myself,” Cr Kidd said.
“I go to the post office most days to pick up mail and I see it.”
Cr Kidd said groups of young people can often be seen congregating and swearing and spitting.
“What they do may not be a criminal offence but it’s not the acceptable norm,” he said.
Cr Kidd said he’d like to see more foot patrols by police in the area and the reintroduction of the summary offences act that gave police extended powers to charge people for minor offences.
He said the installation of CCTV cameras and security lighting to the area had been a deterrent however problems continued to plague the area.
“I think what’s happening there is a combination of perception and reality,” he said.
Cr Kidd said “vulnerable” people who are intimidated or annoyed while walking through the lane often hesitated about reporting the activities to police.
“I think police do a marvellous job with the limited resources they have but they also have to listen to people with concerns.”
Council spokesperson for crime prevention councillor Glenn Taylor welcomed a quick fix to the problems of Post Office Lane but said he didn’t believe there was one.
“We’re open to suggestions,” he said.
“I won’t say there’s no crime or that there’s not a problem but it’s anti-social behaviour rather than criminal behaviour,” Cr Taylor said.
Cr Taylor said while an increased police presence in the area would go some way towards addressing the issue there’s only so much they can do.
“I know police have limited resources but I’d like to see the police’s presence there more often.
“[However] I always say leave policing to police.”
Cr Taylor said the problems experienced in Post Office Lane needed to be addressed on a wider scale.
“They’re social problems rather than police problems,” he said.
“Some of these people don’t even know that they’re doing anything wrong.
“It’s about respecting the community’s laws of common decency.”