BIG BROTHER: Park Avenue and Park Avenue Lane to be fitted with CCTV cameras.
BIG BROTHER: Park Avenue and Park Avenue Lane to be fitted with CCTV cameras. Rachel Vercoe

'It's bloody horrible': Residents concerns on crime hotspot

A TORRENT of stories of harassment, theft and even assault at Coffs Harbour's City Centre have poured in from Advocate readers following a recent safety audit conducted by police.

In response to several reports, officers conducted the safety audit at Park Avenue and Park Avenue Lane, one of Coffs Harbour's most notorious areas for crime.

"There's been a lot of reports in regards to youth that engage in antisocial behaviour," Insp Brendan Gorman said.

"People don't feel safe in this area."

Since the results were revealed in a community crime forum last week, Coffs Harbour City Council has now announced over $900,000 in grant funding would be used to install CCTV cameras and security lighting in the area, as well as at Toormina Sports Precinct and car park.

The cameras and lighting will be installed in City Square, Park Avenue Car Park and Park Avenue Lane in the Coffs CBD from 2019-2020.

Mayor Cr Denise Knight said the cameras and lighting would help cultivate more "family-friendly" areas.

"We've been working very closely with locals, community organisations, businesses and sports groups in these areas which have, unfortunately, become hot spots for crime and antisocial behaviour in recent years," she said.

"Installing CCTV and security lighting will go a very long way to making people feel safer in the future and will help cultivate family-friendly and welcoming spaces where fears of crime or intimidation are no longer a barrier to people's enjoyment."

Since the Advocate reported on the safety audit last week, numerous residents have come forth with their experiences of the area.

John May from Urunga said he had been "driven away" from Coffs Harbour, instead opting to shop at Nambucca after his bike was stolen from him at Park Avenue.

"There's an issue there, it's bloody horrible," he said.

"It's at the point where I'm just considering boycotting Coffs as an economic destination," he said.

"I certainly agree there should have been CCTV when my bike was stolen. I never got it back."

Tanya Paul claimed a man began hitting her car, with her two children inside, while parked at Park Avenue.

"I've been harassed whilst with my young kids, it's frightening," she said.

Another reader claimed a man touched and hugged them while out shopping.

According to the council, the Toormina Sports Precinct has also been the target of vandalism and anti-social behaviour with damage occurring at the Velodrome, Skate Park and Toormina Oval.

The works at Toormina will take place during 2018-2019.

Coffs residents respond:

"I work in this area and it is dangerous and intimidating during the day time and late afternoon. Drugs and alcohol are a big issue as is so many kids not at school hanging around and running a muck..."

- Ronmer

"Not an overly nice place to be. I was in the square and a man and woman (drunk) came up to me and I'm all for being polite but they then decided to touch and hug me? It was really uncomfortable and awkward."

- Morgaine Marie Singh

"Yes I hate having to walk from the mall ... especially with my infant daughter and young boys knowing they're going to cop a face full of cigarette smoke... and never knowing if you're going to get stuck hearing someone swearing their head off yelling abuse."

- Megan Bridges

"There needs to be regular foot patrols by the police or security." - Jimmy R Clark



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