The NSW Police Minister has defended claims of ‘victim-blaming’ in regards to the surge in crime across the region.

It follows a busy week for police in Gunnedah after an alleged altercation where a woman was wounded, multiple police pursuits and talk of vigilantism from some in the community.

During a three-day visit to Moree, Inverell, Armidale and Tamworth last month, the Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism Yasmin Catley said property owners should take necessary precautions to keep valuables safe.

“What we do need to do as owners is to ensure we keep our property safe, that onus is on us in actual fact,” Ms Catley said.

Some in the community felt the minister’s focus should have been directed toward the perpetrators, not the victims.

However, in statement to the Gunnedah Times, a spokesperson for the minister said she was making an observation during the visit which included briefings on local issues and community concerns.

“We are deeply sympathetic to anyone who has had their cars broken into and belongings stolen, we are not blaming them for other people’s crimes,” the spokesperson said.

“Last week, the minister made an observation that there are steps people can take to protect themselves, including locking vehicles. All incidents of theft should be reported to police,” the spokesperson said.

Asked if the government had considered providing extra police resources in the Gunnedah region given the recent crime incidents, the minister’s office said additional needs were demand-driven by the police.

“The NSW government is committed to providing the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) the resources and support it needs to service communities across the state. If they request additional resources for a particular region, then we will sit down and discuss that,” the spokesperson said. “Police officers are highly mobile and available to respond to incidents across the state, they can also be relocated quickly. Exactly where they are deployed is an operational decision for the NSWPF.”

Gunnedah police highlighted the resources at its disposal during last week’s police pursuits involving an offender who was alleged to have committed several armed offences across the region. Police resources called in to assist included the Raptor Squad – which targets groups and individuals who engage in serious crime; the operational support group; proactive crime team; highway patrol and local police. Even the PolAir fixed wing was called ready to assist the Gunnedah operation.

Such has been the community interest in crime across the Gunnedah region, the minister has also been invited to speak at the upcoming Gunnedah Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference in November. Also listed to speak is former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who is also a child sexual abuse advocate for survivors as well as Detective Sergeant Graeme Campbell from the NSW Police Rural Crime Prevention Team.

The theme of the conference is ‘Open for Innovation and Collaboration’ and the program will cover issues such as youth justice and justice reinvestment; indigenous over-representation in the justice system; family, domestic and sexual violence; planning and designing safer towns and cities for women and girls through a gender lens; emerging crime trends and social issues; mental health; rural crime; hate crime; cybercrime; evidence-based approaches to minimise alcohol and drug harm; crime and vulnerable communities; and counter terrorism.

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