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Top cop says about 15 "uncontrolled kids ... are causing all this drama"

September 13, 2022

Chief inspector Peter Atkins runs the audience through crime statistics at a community meeting at Orange Regional Gallery. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

Approximately 15 children are responsible for much of the unease around the city in recent weeks and months, according to police.

About 70 people attended a community meeting with police at a theatrette within Orange Regional Gallery on Tuesday morning to discuss the recent increase in certain crimes or antisocial behaviour.

There were members of the public, community and retail workers, employers, senior council staff, representatives from government agencies, state MP Phil Donato, and a number of councillors including David Mallard, Kevin Duffy, Tony Mileto, Tammy Greenhalgh and Jack Evans, mayor Jason Hamling and deputy mayor Gerald Power.

The meeting was hosted by chief inspector Peter Atkins. He spoke about spikes and dips in various crime categories around the city over the past year, explaining his reasoning for what was behind each.

Crime manager, detective chief inspector Brett Smith, said that “in a nutshell, there were approximately 15 kids that caused the majority of these problems”.

“When we look at kids across our city, we've got 15 that have been uncontrolled. That's what it comes down to. Demonising the kids is probably not the right word to use, however 15 kids are causing us all this drama.”

Atkins explained to the audience that the aim of the Young Offenders Act for children under 18 was “to divert them from the criminal justice system for minor offences”.

Detective chief inspector Brett Smith speaks with a member of the public after the meeting. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

“Even those with more serious offences still need three strikes, or three directions from police,” he said, adding that for most children one interaction with police was enough to direct them back onto the straight and narrow.

“A kid who's shoplifting, on the first occasion normally gets a warning, or at the highest a conference … we can't just arrest young persons for minor offences if it's their first offence.

“Many of us when we were young probably had minor offences, minor interactions with the police, and most children have one interaction and you won't ever see them again. There's a small group, unfortunately, who continue to offend and they are the ones we arrest, put on bail and the courts deal with them.”

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