Clear-up rate boost to police

A RECENT spate of high-profile arrests in the RichmondLocal Area Command (RLAC) may give the appearance of a crime wave, but new statistics show crime is at record lows.

Police say the real reason for the high number of alleged armed robbers, home invaders, burglars and serious drug dealers facing court and gracing the front pages over the past few months is a highly motivated local command that is simply catching more crooks and solving more crimes.

Apart from the high-profile arrests of a gang of suspects charged over a series of armed robberies and a ram raid; and another group – dubbed the tomato sauce gang – now before the courts for a series of destructive break-ins, the RLAC’s recent crime clear-up rate is regularly two to three times the NSW average.

This positions the RLAC as one of the best-performing commands in NSW.

In July, RLAC police almost achieved a 100 per cent clear-up for robberies and break-ins and, if investigations proceed on their current track, the trend could continue.

Police have had a series of spectacular results lately following some lightening-fast responses by general duties officers resulting in the arrests of key suspects and the fast progression of investigations.

Some of these include the arrests of four men for the armed robbery of the East Lismore Ballina Club last week and two men who allegedly robbed a money courier at the Lismore KFC the week before that.

Despite the Richmond LAC being one of the biggest of the State’s 79 commands – taking in Lismore, Ballina, Evans Head, Lennox Head Kyogle, Casino and surrounding towns and villages – reported crime is down in all major crime categories.

Comparisons with other commands can be difficult, as the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics bases its analysis on local government areas rather than local area commands. But the compiled figures show the RLAC has turned its fortunes completely around in the past four years.

According to statistics, in 2006 the RLAC ranked number one in the State for stealing, but today it sits at 53; break-ins fell from number two to seven; assaults from number four to 12; malicious damage from number three to 11; car theft from number five to 25; fraud from number 10 to 52; and robbery from number 12 to 53.

While reluctant to read too much into the figures, Richmond crime manager Detective Inspector Greg Moore suspects the results are the snowballing effect of a combination of strong community assistance and high morale among frontline police.

“It’s a consistent pattern up here and in these high arrest rates there is a correlation between the high standards and hard work of police and the excellent community support in recent times,” he said.

Det Insp Moore praised the willingness of the Northern Rivers community to assist police where they saw crime being committed, particularly violent crime, recalling incidents as a younger officer in regions where apathy was prevalent and people ‘didn’t want to get involved’.

He said the reduced crime rates were further aided by successfully taking repeat offenders off the streets.

“We also have the lowest short-term sick leave in the whole Northern Region (from Gosford to Tweed Heads), which is a sign of high morale,” he said.

Richmond LAC commander, Superintendent Bruce Lyons, said he hoped the results would act as a deterrent to criminals.

“These good results show the importance of the community and police working together,” he said.

“They are also indicative of the hard work by frontline police in the Richmond community.”

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