‘Finding a way forward’: Mullewa leaders meet to take action on crime spree

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
The car of a local GP was stolen and set on fire during the crime spree.
Camera IconThe car of a local GP was stolen and set on fire during the crime spree. Credit: Supplied

Community leaders of a small Mid West town met with the region’s top cop on Wednesday to nut out a plan which could help solve a rise in crime.

Mullewa business owners, concerned residents, teachers, police and City of Greater Geraldton staff talked for more than an hour with Mid West Gascoyne Supt Roger Beer about their concerns.

The farming town’s crime rate has almost trebled in recent times, with 59 offences reported to police in the past six weeks.

Almost all the crimes are attributed to a group of five teenage boys, who have been arrested and charged with burglary, stealing, car theft and criminal damage offences.

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The group of Mullewa leaders met on Wednesday to figure out why the gang of youths were allegedly heading down the wrong path and what could be done to resolve the issue.

The small farming town of Mullewa has seen a dramatic increase in crime.
Camera IconThe small farming town of Mullewa has seen a dramatic increase in crime. Credit: Michael Roberts

Speakers said essential workers such as teachers and nurses had already left Mullewa because of the crimes and they were concerned it would continue unless action was taken.

Many pointed to a lack of youth engagement programs, job opportunities and recreational activities as reasons for crime.

Others said the kids were missing too much school or their families needed more support.

Speaking to the Guardian after the meeting, Mullewa elder Patrick Papertalk said the farming town was being left behind when it came to organised sport and community programs.

“There’s nothing here for them,” he said.

“Programs which keep kids occupied have dried up. The only time they play sports is when the footy season is on.”

Mr Papertalk said he was happy to act as a mentor to some of the teenagers when they were released from custody.

“We’ve got to work together for the community’s sake before it gets worse,” he said.

“We’re only working with six at the moment, but give it another year and that could expand to 15.”

Mid West Gascoyne Superintendent Roger Beer.
Camera IconMid West Gascoyne Superintendent Roger Beer. Credit: Francesca Mann/Geraldton Guardian

A smaller focus group, which includes Mullewa police officer-in-charge Sgt Max Walker, will meet with the families of the boys in a couple of weeks.

Supt Beer said it was positive to see a number of community representatives who wanted to be part of a solution.

“There wasn’t a lot of anger; it was all about finding a way forward,” he said.

“It’s all about communication and co-ordination.

“There’s people that want to do some good work and agencies that want to be involved.

“Part of the solution is providing some family support and prevent future issues.

“People have a basic right to feel safe on the street.”

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