Top cop calls for inter-agency team

Lismore/Ballinas top cop is calling for an inter agency approach to combat crime in the region.

Superintendent Bruce Lyons told Ballina Shire Council last week an interagency team with police, welfare, health, juvenile justice and other community service officials working together out of the same office and sharing information was needed to fight crime but it had to have a firm push from government to achieve it.

The Richmond Local Area Command chief told councillors the region needed interagency co-ordination to learn how to deal with the social issues in the command how to deal with the Aboriginal community and not depend on arrests and the courts system as a solution to ongoing crime.

The problem is much more complex than having cops arresting young people, Supt Lyons said while briefing councillors on a recent police community safety audit for Ballina.

Supt Lyons said he met with the regional heads of the Department of Community Services (DoCS) and Department of Health once a quarter to discuss local crime issues but a working team of inter-agency officials would be more effective.

Supt Lyons said members of the inter agency team had to be work mates with a sergeant of DoCS, a sergeant of health, a sergeant of police working out of the same office.

He said it was common for police to find many offenders arrested were recidivists because of social or mental health problems, an issue an inter agency team could better address.

He gave a snapshot of crime in Ballina, which he described as one of the busiest of the 80 police commands in the state, with a high-rate volume of crime coupled with mental health and domestic violence issues.

He said the region had the second-highest rate of assaults and drug crime in the state, the third-highest rate of break and enters and was number one outside Sydney for metal health problems.

It also had a high road accident and fatality rate with the Pacific Highway running through it and major problems with domestic violence and sexual assaults.

Supt Lyons said he was confident the audit could lead the way to improvements in alcohol-related assault in the town and anti-social behaviour around the CBD after licensed premises closed.

He said similar safety audits for Lennox Head and Alstonville were due to be completed late next month.

Supt Lyons agreed with some councillors that a greater police presence was needed in some areas at certain times, saying frontline police had to get out of the truck and talk to the community.

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