Police 'have to be seen'
RETIRED policeman John Ryan believes Tweed’s crime prob- lem could be largely solved by simply ensuring police are more visible. The Hastings Point resident, who spent 31 years with the Victorian police force, yesterday shared his thoughts with NSW shadow police minister Mike Gallacher at a meeting in Murwillumbah. “What is lacking here is a police presence,” Mr Ryan%explained. “You just don’t see the police.” Since moving to the Tweed, Mr Ryan said he had not once seen a uniformed policeman on the beat in Murwillumbah. During his career, however, he said it was accepted police regularly walked the beat and worked nightshifts, spending alternative hours in the station and on the street. “They were the things we had to do,” he said. “I came up here expecting a town the size of Murwillumbah to have police. “In seven years I have yet to see a uniformed policeman on the beat.” Mr Ryan and other concerned locals, including representatives of Neighbourhood Watch groups, met local MP Thomas George and Mr Gallacher in Murwillumbah’s Escape%Gallery cafe yesterday to%discuss the district’s crime problem. The meeting followed a%public law-and-order forum which highlighted a lack of police earlier this month. Mr Gallacher told the group he believed the police force’s Local Area Commands, such as the Tweed Byron LAC, were simply too big. That meant the most vital tool used by police was not their firearm, computer or police radio, but their street directory. “We are asking too much of police in these huge areas commands. “We are losing local policing,” he said. But Mr Gallacher also revealed he had been blocked in all recent Freedom of Information requests from seeing police rosters for so-called “security reasons”. He said he believed police simply did not want to reveal how few officers and cars were on duty at certain times. Mr Gallacher said the answer to fighting crime lay partly with police trusting Neighbourhood Watch groups with more information. He believed reports of crimes to the police assistance hotline should immediately be forwarded by email or mobile phone SMS message to members of the appropriate Neighbourhood Watch so they could observe what was happening in their area and note car registration numbers. Murwillumbah Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Noel Pittaway said he was hoping more locals would join up. The group will meet tonight from 7pm in the Jessie McMillan Hall in Wollumbin Street.