WANNEROO police have met with Banksia Grove residents in an effort to allay concerns about crime in the suburb.
Banksia Grove Residents’ Association chairman Michael Richards organised the meeting at Joseph Banks Secondary College last night with officers from the local policing team and Neighbourhood Watch WA.
It followed community unrest after two incidents at Mist Park within two weeks; syringes were found by children in the park on May 24 and a sheep’s head was left in the playground on June 3.
About 150 people attended the meeting, where Neighbourhood Watch state co-ordinator Jenny O’Brien told residents about the importance of knowing your neighbours, and reporting incidents and suspicious behaviour.
This was reiterated by Wanneroo officer in charge Senior Sergeant Simon Hazell, who called it a productive meeting.
“We were able to demystify some of the perceptions around crime in Banksia Grove,” he said.
Sgt Hazell said the amount of burglaries and motor vehicle thefts in the suburb had remained consistent since 2011 though incidences of “preventable crimes” such as retail and opportunistic thefts had increased, along with domestic violence cases.
He said crime was down nearly 16 per cent since last year across the Wanneroo policing area and had remained stagnant in Banksia Grove for the past few years.
“Don’t feel uneasy, Banksia Grove is a good suburb,” he said.
“It’s relatively safe but people need to take safety precautions themselves.”
He suggested taking steps to reduce risks, such as placing a padlock on letterboxes and locking cars, and stressed the importance of sharing information with police.
“We want to see people report more,” he said.
“We may not act on it straight away, it may be 12 months later…but all that information coming into police goes to good use.”
Mr Richards organised the meeting after crime became a hot topic on the association’s Facebook page.
He said after the two Mist Park incidents people started posting every issue on social media and several days later there was a home invasion, which amplified people’s fears.
“It became a real area of concern for people,” he said.
“It was one thing after another and it gained momentum.
“I don’t have a problem with (crime reports) being on the page, what we do have an issue with is people using it as their go-to crime reporting tool.
“Don’t make us your first place of reporting.”
Mr Richards said there had been instances of police officers contacting him regarding something posted on Facebook that had not been reported to them.
“It’s the only way we’re going to get any change,” he said.
“Nothing’s going to change by putting it on Facebook.”
He described residents’ feedback on the meeting as positive and hoped people adopted the attitude of reporting incidences to police.
“There is a strong community togetherness, we’ve just got to harness that in the right way,” he said.
“It’s a nice suburb, pretty much everyone is friendly.
“It’s a growing suburb, it’s my home and I like it.”
Numbers to know
In an emergency, call 000
For police attendance or assistance when it is not an emergency, call 131 444
Report information about a crime or suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000