By Casey Neill
Eyes and ears are out to clean up estate’s streets…
Tackling crime is a shared responsibility.
This was the big message to come from the Keysborough South Crime Forum, attended by about 70 people at the South Eastern Masonic Centre in Keysborough on Thursday 16 March.
Somerfield resident Damien Stanyer instigated the forum in response to fears that crime was spiralling out of control in the Keysborough South housing estate.
“Criminals need to know that there’s an active community watching them,” he said.
“It’s not just about police doing their job it’s just about everybody going their job.
“It is a shared responsibility for everybody.
“Residents are doing more. They’re increasing their security measures.
“If everybody comes to the party and is on the same page, there’s no reason why this suburb can’t be a model.”
Mr Stanyer suggested that the State Government could provide a rebate for private CCTV systems in the same way as it does for solar panels.
Greater Dandenong Council’s senior community development co-ordinator Sharon Sykes said: “We don’t solve crime but we work very closely with Victoria Police to support them and try to prevent crime before it begins.”
Mayor Jim Memeti said: “I have heard you today” regarding requests for CCTV monitoring at Somerfield’s entry and exit points.
“I will be putting a bid in to the council to see how much it would cost,” he said.
Cr Memeti said the council would also talk with the estate’s developer, Intrapac, about what role it could play in improving security and perceptions of safety.
Keysborough MP and Attorney-General Martin Pakula vowed to do the same.
He also assured residents that he’d heard their plea for additional police resources.
Mr Pakula said thousands of new police were being trained and would be deployed this year.
“A substantial number of those police will be in the south-eastern suburbs,” he said.
Greater Dandenong Inspector Mark Langhorn heard from residents that they were not reporting some crimes because they felt police wouldn’t do anything with the information.
“We have to know about it to be able to deal with it,” he said.
“I need to know where to put police.”
One woman asked how she should report hooning because she felt it wasn’t serious enough to warrant an emergency call.
“Call triple zero,” Insp Langhorn said.
“If it’s happening there and then and it’s going on, we will try to get an available unit out to it.”
He said his team had targeted hoons in recent months and would continue to do so.
He encouraged residents to provide registration numbers where possible because police could target a vehicle owner if they received multiple reports.
Insp Langhorn said there were 156 crimes reported in Somerfield in the 12 months to March last year, and 157 for the following year.
He said most were thefts from cars and burglaries.
“The area that you live in is very safe but you’re not feeling that,” he said.
Insp Langhorn said population growth and building sites had driven up crime.
Resident Adele said police response to reports from the public had not been good enough, and explained that she provided clear CCTV footage from a break-in to her property to no end.
“That’s not really a good enough response,” Insp Langhorn conceded.
He encouraged residents to make use of the new Greater Dandenong Eyewatch Facebook page for sharing information with police.
Greater Dandenong Neighbourhood Watch president Dawn Vernon told forum attendees: “You are the eyes and ears. The police can’t be on every corner.”