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Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Page: 12402


Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (22:10): When travelling around and talking to residents in my electorate of Cowan, one of the main concerns raised with me is that of personal safety. People are deeply concerned about crime in their local community. Graffiti, vandalism, hoon driving, underage drinking and antisocial behaviour are too prevalent on our streets. What concerned me most was the feeling people had that it was not worth reporting such problems because nothing would be done about it. They felt their concerns were not being heard. For this reason, I established two local crime prevention initiatives: the Cowan Community Watch and the Junior Cowan Community Watch.

Through these programs I encourage local residents to become more aware of their surroundings and to report crime and antisocial behaviour. These crime prevention and infrastructure-fixing programs are designed to encourage the power of the individual and the sense of personal responsibility. It is my belief that I have a responsibility to foster and encourage willingness for action by not only adults but also children. That is why I encourage children from as young as 10 years old to be observant of problems in their local area and report those problems to my office through the Junior Cowan Community Watch program. Of course I do not mean dangerous crime and direct intervention, but more like local infrastructure problems that need to be fixed. They contact me and I ensure the relevant authority is asked to fix it. The child, young person or adult that reported it is then given feedback on what took place. This is often the most important part because too often the lack of information fed back to the reporter discourages them next time and makes them feel powerless. Everyone in our community must feel that they have a part to play in a better and safer community and that if they report something it will be acted upon.

For example, just last week I was contacted by a resident who informed me of a number of street lights that were out in a street in Marangaroo. The resident was concerned that the extended sections of darkness along her street could make the area and all the houses more appealing to burglars. As a result, I drove out to that street that night and found that there were 11 street lights that were out. I recorded the numbers and reported them to Western Power, who indicated that repair action would occur within five days. I then wrote to residents in and near that street informing them of the action I had taken to rectify the street-lighting problem, while providing them with my 12-point checklist to reduce the risk of burglary that they faced.

I work very closely with local police. Each week I receive an email from the officer in charge of the North West Metro Crime Prevention and Diversity Unit of the Western Australia Police. In these emails he outlines the statistics regarding burglaries and vehicle thefts in the northern suburbs of Perth, many of which are Cowan suburbs. A couple of weeks ago he commented in relation to the northern suburbs:

No one area is any different than another, it is only a problem when residents and owners of their assets do not take the precautions to firstly secure their homes and secondly do not leave their car keys laying around on bench tops etc, making life easy for these low lives. In relation to their electrical items such as laptops, iPods etc, they should record the serial numbers, mark their property and advertise the fact by joining Neighbourhood Watch and putting the stickers on their widows stating 'All property has been marked for Police Identification'.

That is the advice of Sergeant Bob O'Sullivan of the North West Metropolitan District police.

In considering what Sergeant O'Sullivan said, I have long believed that a better and stronger community is achieved through everyone in that community acknowledging their need not only to look after their own property but also to see themselves as part of a strong community fence, to look after and control the street in conjunction with their neighbours. By being concerned about what is happening beyond the walls of their house, by pushing the area of responsibility they feel out into the middle of the street and beyond, we can ensure that those moving around and up to no good will be identified. It is important that people feel safe and secure in their homes. Security measures for our homes are part of that, but, even more so, criminals or those up to no good, as I say, should feel that they are under observation and that a step out of line will mean that they will be reported. Of course, the other aspect to it is that everyone must be prepared to act where possible, making it clear that crime is rejected by all those in the local area. People must be prepared to go to court and testify against these criminals.

I applaud the tough stance on crime that the Western Australian government is enforcing, but we must remember that crime prevention is not just about government. It must be about local people taking responsibility and working together to control their streets and create a better and stronger community.