LAST week Midland Police district officer in charge Inspector Jeremy Marklew addressed more than 50 Swan Chamber of Commerce members to give an update on the Safer Midland initiative.
More than 100 businesses have already signed up to a WhatsApp group in the fight against crime in the Midland CBD by collating live data on a daily basis which is available to police and security, along with providing vital evidence for criminal prosecution.
The initiative has grown from its initial beginnings at Centrepoint Shopping Centre to stem retail theft to now cover the entire Midland CBD with support from businesses and professionals working in the area.
Inspector Marklew said he had instigated a similar group when working with licensees in South Hedland focusing on crime hot spots and branching out to local communities.
He said the Midland district was seeing a positive shift in the reduction of burglary incidents which were now very low compared to five or six years ago, and a continued improvement from last year.
Unfortunately, the shift from burglaries and car stealing has moved to stealing from retailers with thieves being reported for wheeling out what can be sometimes hundreds of dollars of meat from Coles and Woolies, and tradable commodities from businesses such as Office Works for drugs.
“We are targeting crooks to hold people to account and as a result are seeing crime drop off so we can be more proactive against high end thefts,” he said.
He said by comparison up until August last year 108 people had been locked up, while the figure for the same period this year is up to 165.
“This is quite an increase in us locking up more crooks, and we are getting positive outcomes in our sanction rate for retail theft with this year 35.7 per cent of offenders being processed, compared to 18.6 per cent last year.”
He said since 2019 there had been a reduction in excess of 50 per cent of evasive crimes, as a result of greater police presence and more officers on the streets, with police improving response rates.
“We are seeing a shift away from hard core crooks with one saying ‘it was time to hang up the crowbar.’
“Everyone at the Midland station is buoyed by the fact that we are doing well.”
Another police initiative which is achieving positive results is the provision of care packages at the Midland Police Station, including a clothing wardrobe, teddy bears and baby packages, and a street kitchen behind the station.
“We also work with non-government organisations to offer support to people including Foodbank.’’
While acknowledging vacancies across the agency but said there was a push for 1000 new police recruits to join in the next 12 months to catch crooks and lock them up.
On a positive note, Inspector Marklew said crime statistics for the Midland police district was trending downwards with burglaries down 30 per cent on previous years.
“Since 2017-18 there has been an overall crime reduction of almost half in the Midland district, including a significant reduction in stealing offences,” he said.
Recent operations have focused on anti-social behaviour and retail offences to stem these types of crimes, with police reaching out to retailers for their take on crime, and conducting walk-throughs in the CBD.
Contact Swan Chamber chief executive officer Tom Smilovitis on 0407 866 555 to be involved.