Kimberley community leaders have warned long term support for families must follow a “massive crackdown” on youth crime announced by the Station Government on Wednesday.
Police Minister Paul Papalia joined Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch and Kimberley MLA Divina D’Anna in Broome on Wednesday to detail new measures aimed at tackling high risk offending by juvenile offenders.
Operation Regional Shield will see a police strike team consisting of specialist officers from the Regional Operations Group and Regional Investigations Unit based in Broome and dispatched to Kimberley locations as required.
The operation will include support from the Police Air Wing, Canine Section and State Intelligence Portfolio.
“Children need role models, and those role models need the opportunity to provide a good example” – Patrick Green
As reported by National Indigenous Times previously, young people have been partaking in increasing dangerous crimes and posting them on social media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram to challenge children in other towns.
Youth crime has increased more than 50 per cent in the region and some 273 serious offenders are now known to police.
The behaviour has also seen five police officers injured, while police vehicles and stations have been rammed by youths in stolen cars with alarming frequency in the past year.
Police Minister Paul Papalia said the operation would target crime ringleaders on a scale not previously seen in regional Western Australia.
“In the coming days and weeks, the government will be rolling out a range of new initiatives to support local communities,” he said.
“Importantly for now, this police response will provide the community much needed respite from criminal offending by some of these hardcore repeat offenders.”
Fitzroy Crossing businessperson and head of the Leedal Group Patrick Green welcomed the additional resources, but added a more robust solution was needed.
“Dealing with the juveniles is needed but you have to realise they have parents and those parents need to have a livelihood,” he said.
“The community is where they will have their employment and hopefully where we will develop role models for these children.
“Children need role models, and those role models need the opportunity to provide a good example, to develop a community to be proud of… because at the moment there is nothing.”
The operation will be supported by the Department of Education and Department of Communities.