21 December, 2022
Crime continues to rise
CRIME continues to plague the two biggest urban centres in the region, with Mareeba and Atherton recording more offences in the past 12 months than the previous year.
Assaults have risen substantially in both towns, with Mareeba recording 433 for the 12 months compared to 262 last year, and assaults in Atherton almost double what they were over the previous year – 75 in 2021 to 136 this year.
It is understood that a percentage of these were related to family and domestic violence, with more people now willing to report incidences to authorities.
The total number of offences for Mareeba to November 2022 was 2049 compared to 1951 in the same period last year, while Atherton recorded 1153 offences compared to 967 in 2021.
This is despite five additional police officers being deployed to the area in June, and moves by Mareeba Shire Council to bring about changes to youth sentencing options and make the State Government pay for CCTV equipment and monitoring to make their town safer.
Break-ins are also plaguing both communities, with Tablelands Regional Council recently told elderly people were sleeping in shifts because they were afraid their houses would be broken into while they slept.
The Queensland Police Service online crime map shows thieves broke into more homes and businesses with unlawful entry figures for Mareeba rising to 328 – a significant jump on the 176 recorded for the previous 12 months – while Atherton also endured more break-ins with 181 recorded compared to 103 last year.
Thieves also stole 54 vehicles from Atherton and 79 from Mareeba which contributed to the re-cord number of vehicles stolen – currently 1241 – in the Far Northern region this year.
Property damage was much higher in Atherton this year, with 131 incidences recorded compared to 85 the previous year, while Mareeba’s rose from 221 to 278.
Tablelands Patrol Group Acting Inspector Geoff Stockall said Atherton Police had worked diligently recently to reactivate the town’s Liquor Accord as a direct response to identified issues in the community.
“Beat patrols across the Tablelands Patrol Group of licensed premises are being conducted regularly and all licenced premises are engaging and supportive of this endeavour,” he said.
“All officers in the Patrol Group, provide daily assistance to victim survivors affected by domestic and family violence, whilst placing offenders before the court.”
Police within the Tablelands Patrol Group, work regularly with Government organisations, Stakeholders and Domestic Violence Support Services to have informed decision making, to make stronger relationships in the community.”
Three new police officers are on their way to Mareeba and Atherton stations after they graduated last week.
“Officers will be taking up positions within the Tablelands Patrol Group just before Christmas and with previous experience in customer service, the cattle industry, the mining industry and the Australian Defence Force, our new officers will bring a wealth of life experience to the area,” acting Insp Stockall said.
Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin said community safety remained a priority for her council.
“We are doing everything in our power to address crime-related issues and we share concerns raised by community members and organisations,” she said.
“Council works directly with QPS and other government agencies to understand the extent of these issues, and to identify solutions.
“Community safety is of great importance, and the Councillors and I have been actively lobbying for many years and have stepped up these efforts since the increase in youth crime in 2021.
“This includes extensive lobbying to the State Government, Queensland Police Service and the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.”
The Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs has also committed $260,000 in funding for PCYC Mareeba and the opening of a new office in Mareeba to respond to child safety and youth justice matters.
The Mareeba Community Centre has secured $785,000 Federal Government Funding, to recruit two youth workers and to deliver additional support to young people at risk and the Queensland Police announced a further seven positions that would be added to the Tablelands region.
“Mareeba Shire Council also recently presented two successful motions to the Local Government Association of Queensland to lobby the State Government on these matters, as the peak body for Queensland local councils,” Mayor Toppin said.
“On a local level, Council supports businesses to improve their CCTV coverage through the Mareeba Community Safety Enhancement Program, and this aims to enhance public safety in QPS identified hot spots.
“Crime causes fear and division in the community, and there is no place for it. Our Council has done, and will continue to do, everything in its power to protect our homes, livelihoods and the lifestyle we all love.”