Council will ask Northern Beaches Police for a briefing on anti-social and criminal behaviour.

At last Tuesday night’s (27 April) meeting of Northern Beaches Council, a motion by Councillor Rory Amon to invite police to a meeting was unanimously supported. The motion was to thank police for their service to the community over the past 12 months and invite them to provide a confidential briefing ‘regarding increasing reports of anti-social and criminal behaviour on the Northern Beaches.’

Rory Amon

Rory Amon

“Residents, media, and social media reports have been indicating increased anti-social behaviour across the Northern Beaches in recent months. These reports range from graffiti, robberies, daylight assaults, domestic violence, alcohol induced trespasses, public urination, groups of young people intimidating and harassing members of the public unprovoked.

“In the circumstances, it is appropriate that Council asks the local Police if they would be prepared to attend a confidential Councillor briefing and provide a comprehensive update about recent reports, and the facts and statistics which sit behind these reports,” said Cr Amon.

Councillor Vincent De Luca OAM this week received a response to questions he had raised on behalf of concerned members of the community regarding vandalism to bus shelters. The response revealed a shocking level of vandalism of community bus shelters.

Vandalised bus shelter at Warriewood

Bus shelters across the Northern Beaches are managed by Council, Ooh!Media (former Warringah and Pittwater) and JCDecaux (former Manly). Council revealed that in excess of 180 incidents of bus shelter vandalism have been recorded across the Northern Beaches this year, averaging more than one incident per day since the start of the year.

Vincent De Luca

Vincent De Luca

“Residents continue to report smashed glass at hundreds of bus shelters across the Northern Beaches. Of those bus shelters under the responsibility of Northern Beaches Council, it has cost approximately $50k in replacing glass. Ohh!Media has had to shell out over $100k for the bus shelters they lease for advertising. My motion for Council to investigate the introduction of CCTV at crime hot spots was passed unanimously at the Council meeting on 23 February 2021,” said Cr De Luca.

Council has said that it is considering the use of CCTV to identify those responsible for the vandalism and has formally raised the issue with Northern Beaches Local Area Commander Superintendent Patrick Sharkey.

Supt. Sharkey acknowledged community concern regarding anti-social behaviour, particularly over the Christmas period when reports of youths engaged in public violence saw NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller support a youth crime blitz on the Northern Beaches.

Superintendent Patrick Sharkey

Patrick Sharkey

Supt. Sharkey said the blitz was part of a broader operation conducted on the Northern Beaches from October 2020 to February 2021 called Operation Summer Safe.

“The objective of the operation was to conduct high visibility policing over the afternoon and night time of the summer period, including school holidays, in order to prevent, disrupt and respond to incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour.

“The operation covered all sectors of the Northern Beaches, with a focus on public spaces, transport hubs and licensed premises during the peak Thursday to Saturday periods.

“Over the four-month period, police on the Northern Beaches conducted more than 850 business inspections of licensed premises, issued more than 1000 move-on directions, conducted more than 1500 person and/or vehicle searches and more than 600 bail compliance checks, and recorded more than 500 juvenile diversions. In relation to person searches and move-on directions, about 55 percent related to adults and 45 percent to juveniles.

“During the course of the operation, legal actions were taken in relation to a range of offences conducted in public areas such as, but not limited to offensive conduct, drink driving, drug possession and assault matters.

“During the same period, there was an overall reduction in many key crime categories, such as the number of reports of break and enters, robberies and assaults, including on public transport. Police involved in Operation Summer Safe accounted for a significant proportion of these proactive results.

“Just because this specific operation has concluded, it doesn’t mean we are taking our foot off the pedal. Police will continue to commit significant resources to proactively patrol at-risk areas, and will not tolerate offensive or criminal behaviour.

“Officers from Northern Beaches PAC will also continue to focus on our proactive programs and diversion strategies for at-risk youth, which fall under the NSW Police Force RISEUP strategy.

“I would like to again encourage anyone who witnesses any criminal activity to come forward and report it to police. Our officers cannot investigate a crime they’re not aware of, so we need the community’s assistance with this,” said Supt Sharkey.

Supt Sharkey also spoke to the Northern Beaches Advocate about the concerns held by the community during a press conference at Manly Police Station (video below).

Northern Beaches Council have provided a map of damaged bus shelters (pink and red dots).

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate, Joe Mills, Northern Beaches Council
Video: Northern Beaches Advocate