Gunnedah shire is not alone in our experiences with escalating crime.

As chair of the Country Mayors Association of New South Wales, I know that communities throughout regional, rural and remote New South Wales are struggling with alarming crime rates.

For the first time, crime and law and order was among the five most critical emerging issues for our members.

We know, in Gunnedah, how quickly crime can escalate. We have seen increasing levels of car theft and break and enters. And while our police are doing the best they can to address the issue, there is only so much they can do with severely limited resources, including a station that is not open 24 hours a day.

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) statistics show regional and rural New South Wales is in the grip of a law and order crisis. If you live in a regional community, you are more likely to have your car stolen, more likely to have your home broken into and more likely to be impacted by domestic violence. And when these crimes do occur, it is less likely there will be a police officer on duty to help.

We also have significantly fewer police than our city cousins, and as a whole, New South Wales has less police per head of population than Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. Our police officers are already facing an incredible workload, with only one police officer per 467 NSW residents.

That’s why the Country Mayors Association has released a report calling for a parliamentary inquiry into crime, law and order in regional New South Wales, with the endorsement of the Police Association of New South Wales.

Gunnedah played a big part in the parliamentary inquiry into health outcomes and access to health services in regional New South Wales that was established in 2020. As well as the many heartfelt submissions from our community, one of the inquiry’s 15 hearings was held here, helping to build the case for the 22 findings and 44 recommendations that ultimately came from the inquiry. That inquiry gave us a way forward for better health outcomes in our community.

That is what we want from an inquiry into crime, law and order in regional New South Wales. We want equity for our community and for all regional communities.

We have called on the bipartisan support of our state members of parliament to commit to this inquiry.

We need their help to deliver a safer community for today and tomorrow.

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