Residents told to back police

SAWTELL resident Peter Muldoon believes his community needs to support police in their work against crime in the Sawtell area.

Peter and his wife, Julie, lost their beloved boat to a firebug last year. Although no-one was charged, Peter believes the police did their job to help.

"We need to be able to support [the police] and give them some ammunition to control these people," he said.

The Muldoons were among 50 of 75 people in a meeting at the Sawtell Surf Club last night who raised their hand in support of re-introducing Neighbourhood Watch in the Sawtell area.

Although recent concern has been the lack of police presence in the Sawtell area at night, local MP Andrew Fraser said budgets don't allow the Sawtell station to stay open every day for 24 hours a day.

"I don't think there wouldn't be a community in the State that would say they could do with a few less police," Chief Inspector Jason Breton said.

Mr Breton said that police hours are extended to 10 hours of duty in Sawtell on the weekend when the crime rate is higher compared to eight hours during the week and extra staff are put on at Coffs Harbour.

He said it was perceived demand, not budgets, that determined when a station was manned.

He suggested community members contact police when they see crime or inappropriate behaviour so statistics could show that more police vigilance in the area is needed.

"When I look at crime statistics in terms of assaults or break and enters there's not a crime wave that has suddenly hit Sawtell but public perception may well be that that is the case so we'll have to draw that information out," Mr Breton said.

"You need to tell us about the problems that you're having otherwise these sorts of resources go elsewhere to areas of the community we have traditionally heard about," he said, referring to the bucket of money given for the similar problems mentioned.

Some at the meeting also suggested that some places such as Murray's Beach and Boronia Park be designated alcohol-free zones.

Mayor Keith Rhoades, also suggested those having a get together to pick up a 'party pack' from the local police station.

You can report a crime by phoning 131 444 or by visiting the closest police station in person.

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