The Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference held at the Gunnedah Town Hall featured 24 speakers on Thursday and Friday last week. It was estimated almost $300,000 in direct and indirect economic benefits were brought into Gunnedah shire.

The NSW Minister for Police and Counter-Terrorism Yasmin Catley was a keynote speaker on Friday.

Ms Catley focused on the issues community leaders had brought to her attention including youth crime and requests for a parliamentary inquiry into regional crime.

“I acknowledge that there is fear in the community and that we need to do more – you are absolutely right,” she said.

The minister said there was a 13 per cent increase in property and violent crimes in the last 24 months in NSW, but a two per cent increase during the last 60 months.

She states this was likely due to COVID lockdowns affecting people’s behaviour and the statistics prove it is an ongoing issue.

“It is not a new phenomenon and it is not something we can fix overnight,” she said.

“It is going to take a lot of work from a lot of government and non-government partners to get this right.”

The minister noted the work of the NSW Police Youth Command in keeping young people out of the criminal justice system as victims and offenders. The police efforts combined with local communities and agencies to combat youth crime were acknowledged.

“We cannot and should not do this alone, it is about meaningful partnerships with key organisations and agencies who have the ability to work with young kids to see them on a better path,” she said.

“More importantly, it is having the right kinds of services and supports in place to ensure kids do not get on this path in the first place.”

She addressed the calls for a parliamentary inquiry into regional crime by stating she believes it is not “the best way to approach this problem right now”.

“I know that might not be what you want to hear, but I am concerned that this laser-like focus on a parliamentary inquiry being the only way to achieve any kind of meaningful change in the community on crime prevention is misguided,” she said.

“We want to get to work on this problem now, not in a year or two when an inquiry hands down a report.”

The Gunnedah Times reported last week how Country Mayors Association of NSW chair Jamie Chaffey described the government’s position on the inquiry as “insulting”.

Ms Catley said crime is a major concern to its communities in some towns and suburbs.

She acknowledged Operational Regional Mongoose as a course of action against recurrences of aggravated break, enter and steal offences with vehicle theft.

During a recent police operation more than 100 break and enters and stolen vehicles were investigated.

The Minster was congratulatory towards the police for using the resources given to it but stated more needs to be done to prevent crime.

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