A multi-agency taskforce set up to address hooning in Queensland was championed as one way a community like Gunnedah could successfully tackle crime.

The taskforce also detailed the difficulty recording accurate data about instances of hooning – a key part of the challenge for Gunnedah in addressing its crime-related problems.

The hooning taskforce presentation formed part of the Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference in Gunnedah late last year. The two-day conference provided opportunities to connect with industry experts to discuss crime trends and the latest approaches in resolving crime in communities.

Julie Campbell from Logan City Council, and Senior Sergeant Darren Smith from Queensland Police, told how it was Queensland’s first taskforce which specifically addressed the issue of hooning “wholistically and collaboratively”.

Hooning is the common word used to describe any anti-social behaviour conducted in a motor vehicle. This can include speeding, street racing and burnouts.

The taskforce combined representatives from local government, police and the Department of Transport and Main Roads. It benefited from a $250,000 grant to support the anti-hooning initiative and highlighted five areas for attention including advocacy, enforcement, target hardening, education and technology.

Taskforce delegates knew a key to the campaign’s success would be drawing on support from Logan city residents.

“We needed the community to be reporting (hooning),” Ms Campbell said.

Similar challenges are being faced by the Gunnedah community with authorities and crime prevention advocates pleading with victims and witnesses to report instances of crime.

Gunnedah police regularly urge people to report via Crimestoppers (1800 333 000) or PoliceLink (131 444) as ‘suspicion’ that a person is involved in crime or ‘we all know who it is’ is not evidence accepted by the courts.

Crime prevention advocate and Gunnedah shire councillor Colleen Fuller has previously told the Gunnedah Times that reporting was important to justify more resources to assist in resolving crime problems.

“If the figures are right up there we might get more police, but while you’re not reporting it, it’s not happening,” she said.

Logan’s hooning taskforce combined its online reporting tool, described as “pivotal” to the campaign, with leaflet letterbox drops in areas of a suspected hooning incident. The flyers urged residents to report what they saw to assist in prosecution.

Senior Sergeant Darren Smith from the hooning taskforce said although the data was important, it didn’t illustrate the complexity and wide variance of hooning occurrences.

“The data doesn’t differentiate between someone who did a skid outside a driveway and (illegal) hooning events like we had at the Gold Coast and Logan with hundreds of people,” he said.

Nevertheless, the taskforce combined the reporting with other measures such as surveillance cameras and ‘no parking’ signs in known hooning hotspots. This was followed up by traffic enforcement by police and issuing of infringement notices for breaches. The combined effect helped reduce hooning offences in the Logan area.

In the wake of Gunnedah’s spate of car thefts and subsequent vehicle fires, Mrs Fuller said Gunnedah is looking to source grant funding from the state government for a similar program to be rolled out in the north west region.

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