The region’s freshly formed police district is set to have its hands full, as it faces crime trends on par with metropolitan areas.
As of Sunday morning, the Wagga Local Area Command was absolved, merging with parts of the old Cootamundra LAC and Albury.
Now referred to as the Riverina Police District, the region has been divided into four sectors: Temora, Tumut, Cootamundra and Wagga.
It comes after NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller last year announced the roll-out of a controversial re-engineering program, resulting in 34 Local Area Commands being replaced by 26 “police districts”.
District Commander – formerly Wagga Superintendent – Bob Noble said he was looking forward to a number of positive changes across the region, with the appointment of additional officers, and four “officers in charge” of policing at each sector, a rural crime prevention team, an additional domestic violence liaison and a region enforcement squad.
But the additional resources have been provided for a reason, with the region’s district earmarked to be the third busiest in the state.
Commander Noble said the volume of crime experienced across the Riverina was only behind Lake Illawarra and Wollongong, due to the region’s policing being spread across 20 stations.
“The Riverina and Wagga have always been a focal point for policing, with a large population centre,” Commander Noble said. “There has always been a lot of activity going on here.”
His words a follow data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, revealing a whopping 1300 break and enter offences across the former Murrumbidgee district between October 2016 and September 2017.
In addition, more than 1200 theft from a motor vehicle offences, close to 350 car thefts, almost 900 assaults, 4 murders, and more than 2000 incidences involving malicious damage to property were reported across the year.
Commander Noble said tackling the ever-present crime surge was “an immense challenge”, but on a positive note, he said police had, and would continue to, “punch above (their) weight in regards to pro-activity and crime prevention”.
“The rate of crime here is substantial,” he said. “It is something I concern myself with.”
But Commander Noble said he was certain the policing model change would produce positive outcomes across the Riverina, with officers addressing crime-related concerns that were relevant to each sector.
“I think new structure will sharpen our focus to local issues and help us get on top of them,” he said.
“I’m very fixed on getting outcomes that are consistent with local needs … people want to see police in uniform.”