In a five-part campaign titled 'The Burning Issue', the Central Western Daily is exploring the troubling volume of car thefts and fires in our city, and seeking answers and solutions from those in power. This is the fifth story in the series, where the state government is asked what it can provide to fight the crimes ...
The state government has not committed to providing extra police or community resources for Orange to fight against the city's spate of car thefts and fires.
The Central Western Daily put a list of questions on the issue to Premier Gladys Berejiklian who passed the issue over to Police Minister David Elliott.
Mr Elliott said the government was "committed to increasing frontline staff across NSW, including police, nurses and teachers" but did not say any extra were coming to Orange.
"The NSW Government is delivering 1500 new police," he said.
A spokesman for the minister said the resources would be allocated by the NSW Police Force.
The only example of where the extra police would be provided was for 18 rural crime investigators to target "stock theft, illegal hunting, stealing, trespass and firearms offences."
I believe we still need a regional enforcement squad based here.- Phil Donato, member for Orange
Mr Elliott also said there had not been any change to resourcing at Juvenile Justice in Orange.
Member for Orange Phil Donato said extra police and community resources were needed to fight the crimes.
Mr Donato said he would raise the matter in state parliament in the first week of the next sitting, which starts on May 28.
He is calling for a regional enforcement squad to be based in Orange to initially tackle the car fires and for a police dog and handler to be based in Orange.
Mr Donato said he had been told by Police Commissioner Mick Fuller at a meeting earlier this year several extra officers would be provided in Orange.
" I have spoken to Commissioner Fuller, a few months back, and back then the car fires was a problem and I told him about that. I went on Ray Hadley's [radio] program, I mentioned that as well, to try and put the pressure on the government and the commissioner to commit to additional resources here because we have the lowest police to population ratios in the state," he said.
"Police need more resources. I was told by Commissioner Fuller that additional resources would be coming here after July 1.
"I believe we still need a regional enforcement squad based here, that was one of the things the commissioner was going to be looking at for next year."
MAP: Some of the car fires in Orange in 2019 ...
He said while a Bathurst-based police squad was assisting Orange police fires over the car fires they had to juggle the work with their other commitments.
"A regional enforcement squad [of about five officers] would make a difference, ensuring police here have the resources, staffing levels, obviously that would help," he said.
"I will deliver a notice of motion in the next sitting week about calling on the premier and the government to provide the resources here, [as] we've got this spate of vehicle fires," he said.
Mr Donato said a police dog would assist with arresting offenders.
"In Sydney dog handlers are working most nightshifts, if you're involved in a pursuit and your chasing someone a dog is the best way to catch someone. If they're jumping across backyards or they're hiding in a bush a dog will find them," he said.
Mr Donato said other areas needed resources.
"There's no silver bullet. I think it is going to take a number of different factors taken into consideration to address this," he said.
A lot of these young people who are stealing these cars and burning them out are juveniles, minors.- Phil Donato, member for Orange
Mr Donato said senior police had told him many of the car theft and fire offenders were young.
"Most of these kids are 12, 13, 14 year olds doing this. They are young kids, it's difficult," he said.
"Parents and carers need to take responsibility. A lot of these young people who are stealing these cars and burning them out are juveniles, minors.
"They are out at all hours of the evening doing this. They shouldn't be out at one and two in the morning, running around with their older siblings and their mates.
"It's all well and good to say the police aren't doing their job but the police can only do so much."
Mr Donato said social services needed more resources to address the reasons behind why the crimes were being committed.
"We need to ensure social services in the area are properly resourced. Things like FACS and programs in schools to try and keep these kids engaged. Teach kids some respect for other people's property because I think that is clearly lacking.
"A lot of these kids who are doing this see it as a badge of honour when they're getting notoriety, making the news and they go and tell their mates they've been involved in a chase with the police or how many cars they've set on fire. We really need to change that way of thinking.
"Community services, they've been stripped, [we need to] make sure they have the resources. Juvenile Justice need some resources too, they're dealing and interacting with a lot of these young people and they're stripped back as far as staff and resources."
He said schools also needed to re-think student suspension policies.
"A lot of the times, a kid mucks up at school and they get suspended, and the kid likes that because they don't like going to school anyway, they're suspended and they're at home doing nothing, of course they are going to get up to mischief," he said
"I don't think suspending kids is an answer."
"Ultimately I think it comes back to the parents of these kids and often they don't give a stuff."
- READ MORE BURNING ISSUE, PART I | Police reveal who is fuelling the car fires in our streets
- READ MORE THE BURNING ISSUE, PART II | 'S#!t-scared': The awful toll on victims of car fires
- READ MORE THE BURNING ISSUE, PART III | Car insurance premiums at risk of rising | Photos
- READ MORE THE BURNING ISSUE, PART IV | 'Frustrated': On the front line of car fires | Photos
Police Association of NSW Orange branch chairman Adam Piffarelli backed Mr Donato's call for a enforcement squad.
"A team like that could go out and actually target these sort of things and stamp out this sort of crime" he said.
"To run a properly staffed regional enforcement squad, like what Bathurst have, we need a minimum of five [extra officers], which would be a sergeant and four constables that could run that at an absolute minimum."
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