Hoons in and around the Greta area have been put on notice with police warning that antisocial behaviour and dangerous driving will not be tolerated.
Fairfax Media reported last week that residents living near Greta Central Park have been left feeling fearful, exasperated and frustrated with what they perceived as a lack of action by local police over destructive behaviour at the park and dangerous driving in the neighbouring streets.
It was claimed that such behaviour had been going on in the area for years and, while incidents had dropped off recently due to residents filming and taking photographs, it was still a burning issue.
Hunter Valley Police District Commander, Acting Superintendent Chad Gillies, said that he sympathised with residents concerns and wanted to do all in his power to alleviate the problem.
“I agree with the residents,” he said.
“The last thing you need is people driving cars dangerously, having to deal with criminal activity including malicious damage of the fields.
“It’s something that we will not tolerate.”
While the anonymous residents who spoke to the Advertiser last week said they felt they could not contact police due to a perceived lack of response, Acting Superintendent Gillies urged to community to report anything they see.
“There has been some activity there reported to police but not a lot, so the information I have is that we need to get the public to report incidents of anti-social behaviour and hoon behaviour to their local police which for Greta, at this moment falls under the Singleton sector,” he said.
“I encourage all residents in that area to report incidents to police so that we are aware of it and we can adjust our taskings accordingly.
“If we are aware that there is a problem in the area, we can divert our resources to that area.”
He added that he would be taking a pro-active approach to the issue from here on in.
“Now that I am personally aware of the issue I will liaise with the Officer-In-Charge of the Singleton sector Inspector Joanne Schultz and and ensure that we have appropriate police response down there,” he said.
“I will also be speaking to our highway patrol to assist our local police in Singleton to make sure that they put some traffic enforcement in and around that area to discourage that kind of behaviour.”
Generally speaking though, Acting Superintendent Gillies said that police were well aware of hooning behaviour throughout the Cessnock LGA and were taking proactive steps to reduce incidents, such as the successful Operation RIDA (Report Illegal Dirtbike Activity)
“With Operation RIDA, we know that we’ve seized in excess of 70 trailbikes and I think over half of those, around 60 per cent, have been confirmed stolen.
“Police in the area are addressing hoon behaviour in general but in terms of the Greta area, I have not been aware until now that there has been a major issue. Now that I am personally aware we will certainly be looking into it.”
Acting Superintendent Gillies added that he would be encouraging police to utilise all legislative powers at their disposal to discourage anti-social behaviour in the area.
“In terms of burnouts and whatnot, there are some significant penalties and we can also seize vehicles in certain circumstances
“There are some legislative powers that police can utilise to disrupt that behaviour and that is what I will be encouraging our police to do,” he said.
Our main concern going forward is that someone will be seriously injured or killed through a traffic accident or a pedestrian being knocked down.Hunter Valley Police District Commander, Acting Superintendent Chad Gillies
“In conjunction with our Highway Patrol, who are the subject matter experts, we can go through and look at defects and look at really discouraging people thinking that this is a race strip in and around the Greta area.
“Our main concern going forward is that someone will be seriously injured or killed through a traffic accident or a pedestrian being knocked down.
“On top of that – it’s just criminal behaviour.
“When you’re going onto fields or other grounds and deliberately tearing them up, that’s malicious damage and people identified doing such things will be charged.”
Acting Superintendent Gillies added that he was keen to hear from the community about this and any other issues they may be facing.
He said he was looking to organise a community forum in the area to hear residents’ concerns first hand.