PUBLIC FORUM ON VANDALISM IN SUFFOLK PARK,  held Monday 15 October 2007, 7pm, at the Suffolk Park Hotel.

Chair/Moderator: Peter Stolz, President, Suffolk Park Progress Association
Present:  SPPA executive committee; Ron Halpin and Stuart Amos from the Volunteer Fire Brigade;  the Mayor, Jan Barham; Deputy Mayor, Ross Tucker; Superintendant Michael Kenny and Inspector Owen King from the police; Ian Davies, Deputy Principal of Byron High School; and 50+ members of the community.

Discussion:    There was a broad range of issues discussed that included:

  • Need for more police presence in Suffolk Park: Superintendant Kenny responded that at this time, the size of the community and severity of crime does not warrant a permanent police presence;  however , they could have available from time to time a mobile command post area, comprised of 5-6 police officers, computers, bicycles, etc.

Procedures in place for police to deal with the current vandalism and violence:
Insp. King outlined the steps taken to apprehend offenders, starting with cautions and warnings; hard evidence is needed for them to pick up the kids and take them home; not able to breathalise unless in a vehicle; Supt. Kenny at this point has enough hard evidence to be able to approach families of some of the kids and see if parents and kids will cooperate in questioning.
Proximity of Fire Station to Gaggin Park is making it more of an easy target.
Vandalism at Skate Park is also a big problem.  Supermarket responded that since the opening of the park, there has been less vandalism there. Vandals, when locked out of skate park, seem to head to Gaggin Park.
Under-reporting seen as an issue; that the police have too few records of vandalism in the area.
SP Caravan Park suffers from thieving of alcohol from eskies on weekends.
Recognition that “99%” of kids are good; and even the culprits themselves, until under the influence of alcohol”.

Ideas for Solutions:

  • Keep pushing for police presence in Suffolk Park; trial mobile command post area for Halloween; emphasise at state level that Suffolk Park is no longer a small community and needs more police vigilance.
  • Have role models talk with kids, eg Danny Wills/Kieran Perrow , “drugfree surfing heroes”.
  • More activities for the kids: Council youth development officer / YAC looking into events at SP Hall whilst YAC under repair;  Recent rock concert at B.High attracted 814 kids, no alcohol allowed, no problems.
  • Have something that kids can call “their own”, eg mural on side wall of fire station,  skate park??
  • School education programmes by Council and Police, counselors at High school to identify kids more at risk; programmes on alcohol/drug abuse, such as “Your Night, Your Life” teenagers project.

Resident action:

around Australia is an organization that residents create, patrolling streets wearing orange and make contact with kids to talk with them;

residents to go to Gaggin Park on nights of vandalism and take photos (Owen King cautioned that photos and names of under-18’s in media is illegal);

have SPPA members on patrol;

parents to join police citizens youth club to promote activities for kids;

Talking with the kids themselves to find out what their feelings are.

Street Cruise :

Mayor reported that funding unavailable for this area.
DOCS workers to monitor streets on weekends.
Gaggin Park made an alcohol free zone, so that police have powers to confiscate alcohol; report before council next month on this.

Use of media, eg “Suffolk Park residents on alert” against vandals; education of residents by police , Insp. King suggests keep outside lights on to deter vandals, encourage residents to not personally take kids on; issue warnings before Halloween. Jan Byron to contact Byron Shire News.
Residents reporting hotline:  131444 not 000; also to report incidents to council.
Blanch’s bus service discontinuation: Jan Barham and Peter Stolz to contact Blanchs to find way to reinstate service.
Meeting to invite kids to have their say.

The meeting concluded at 8.45pm.