EXPLAINER

Ice not the issue: The state of crime in the Nambucca Valley

Senior Constable Tim Harvey-Walker (Intelligence Officer for Mid North Coast), Senior Constable Steve Cherry and District Commander Superintendent Paul Fehon
Senior Constable Tim Harvey-Walker (Intelligence Officer for Mid North Coast), Senior Constable Steve Cherry and District Commander Superintendent Paul Fehon

A number of very interesting truths were revealed by our senior officers at the most recent Community Safety Precinct Meeting in Macksville.

While there's a lot of fear amongst locals about crime related to the ice epidemic in our community, the statistics just don't seem to justify the concern.

"We've found there's no direct correlation between the use of ice and a surge in reports of violent crime in our communities," District Commander Superintendent Paul Fehon said.

"We've actually sometimes noticed a reduction in crime across the board at times when there has been an increase in supply of methylamphetamines."

According to Supt Fehon, the biggest concern on the Mid North Coast currently is the resurgence of heroin which has been occurring over the past 18 months.

Luckily for us, it's a problem that is mostly contained in Kempsey, with a only a few incidents bleeding into our shire.

Supt Fehon said our country has been relatively free from the scourge of heroin addiction since the early noughties when supply was cut off at the source overseas.

But the cycle of heroin dependency and rising crime rates has started to rear its ugly head again.

There are two positives here, however:

  • Supt Fehon said there doesn't seem to be a trend amongst the emerging generation to take up the drug - the current users are mostly middle-aged, and are very likely the very same people who used back in the 80s and 90s.
  • Strike Force Beith detectives have just arrested seven people in relation to heroin supply in the Kempsey area.

"In the last two days we have executed seven search warrants across the Kempsey area, and seized heroin, amphetamines, cannabis, a taser, two batons, and capsicum spray, plus over $10,000 in cash," Supt Fehon said.

"This is a tremendous success for the community, helping take the scourge of illicit drugs off the streets."

Mid North Coast Local Area Commander Superintendent Paul Fehon with the drugs, weapons and seized cash. Photo: Stephen Katte

Mid North Coast Local Area Commander Superintendent Paul Fehon with the drugs, weapons and seized cash. Photo: Stephen Katte

Three women aged 26 to 63, and four men aged 26 to 62 stand accused. Collectively they face a multitude of charges, including supply of prohibited drugs, six counts of operating a drug premises, 30 charges of supplying drugs, three of possessing prohibited weapons and three of dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Crime trends in the Nambucca

Crime numbers were down in most categories in our Valley throughout the past three months.

The only areas which saw a spike, or a continued upward trajectory, included assault, malicious damage and steal from motor vehicle.

A milder-than-usual winter, and an earlier-than-expected temperature rise, along with the absence of rain, could possibly have something to do with these statistics increasing in the month of August, according to Supt Fehon.

We need rain - rain always flattens out the crime figures, and hot nights always bring out the alcohol and the assaults.

Supt Fehon

Hot weather also coincides with a rise in opportunistic crimes like stealing from vehicles and dwellings.

But he concedes that malicious damage is a "continuously pertinent issue" in the Nambucca.

Senior Constable Steve Cherry said CCTV footage of retail theft incidents posted on the Mid North Coast Police Facebook page has led to a number of convictions.

"Usually within 24 hours of posts going up online, people are shamed into dobbing themselves in," he said.

But the number one focus in the Valley is still domestic violence.

"There has been a 34 percent increase in domestic violence-related homicides across the state," Supt Fehon said.

"In the Nambucca there's an average of two domestic violence assaults per week."

Thin blue line filling out a bit

On July 1, the Nambucca welcomed new Probationary Constables Borg and Herraman into the team.

There is also a recruitment process underway to secure a brand new sergeant at Nambucca Heads.

Supt Fehon encouraged the public to report every incident as it occurs; reports prove an increased workload which justifies an increase in resources such as new officers.

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