Magistrates’ decisions are not in line with community expectations, one Wagga man says.
Neighbourhood Watch president Wayne Deaner said the Wagga community was “fed up” with the crime scourge, leaving a trail of injuries, burned cars, graffiti and break-and-enter victims across the city.
What was even more frustrating, he said, was the “unbalanced” leniency granted to the accused juvenile offenders.
It comes after the conditional release of two sixteen-year-old boys who were involved in the gang-bashing of a Tatton man and his family last week.
Police were called to a Stirling Boulevard home after 11.30pm on Friday night, following reports of the alleged alcohol-fuelled beating.
It is understood the man simply questioned the three teens’ presence in his front yard.
The teenagers were charged with affray, intimidation and assault occasioning actual bodily harm but despite being bail refused at the Wagga police station, two were released pending a children’s court appearance.
The third teen – allegedly facing breach of bail charges – was bail refused.
“Police are doing a great job of catching these kids and then they’re back out on the street the next day,” Mr Deaner said.
“They’re granted bail time after time after time … it’s outrageous.”
Mr Deaner said magistrates were handing out good behaviour bonds like lollies, despite – for example – a potential 14-year sentence for break and enter crimes under the NSW Crimes Act.
He said consequences for crimes were “not compatible with community expectations”.
“Can you imagine the police’ frustration?” he said.
“They just lock the kids up one day and they’re out on the street the next.”
Mr Deaner said community members needed to stand together to make change.
“Wagga’s had enough,” Mr Deaner said. “We as a community need to get behind each other.”
He said reasonable attendance at the Neighbourhood Watch meeting at Kooringal Community Centre from 6pm on Wednesday, May 17, would help “get something done” and kick start a movement toward a safer Wagga, with home-security demonstrations and ideas that everyone could use.
Wagga police acting superintendent Darren Cloake said when a person was bail refused by police the weight of responsibility fell on the courts.
“We understand local magistrates have a tough job finding a balance between the risk associated with taking away an accused person’s liberty and community safety and expectations,” Mr Cloake said.
“The Wagga command feels very supported by local magistrates and courts in finding that balance.”