Crime in Esperance hits 10-year low

Buckling down on crime: Just 372 offences were committed in the suburb of Esperance in 2018/2019, the lowest since 2010. Photo: Stock Image.
Buckling down on crime: Just 372 offences were committed in the suburb of Esperance in 2018/2019, the lowest since 2010. Photo: Stock Image.

The latest statistics from WA Police show crime in Esperance is at a 10-year low, but the number of offences in the surrounding suburbs has almost doubled.

Just 372 offences were committed in the suburb of Esperance in 2018/2019, the lowest since 2010 and about half the number from 2012/13.

Stealing made up almost one-third of all offences in Esperance, and almost all of the offences in Bandy Creek.

Moving east of the town site, Castletown had a total of 148 offences in 2018/19, almost the same amount as last year, and 25 per cent of which were drug-related.

Nulsen had a total of 220 offences, the lowest amount since 2013/14, more than one-third of which were drug-related.

The number of offences in West Beach was at an all-time high with 65 offences, 20 per cent of which were dwelling burglaries.

In Pink Lake, the number of offences doubled from last year to 60, 39 of which were drug-related.

Chadwick had just 30 offences, half of which were drug-related, and while the number of offences in Sinclair fell from last year, it was still almost double the number recorded in 2016/17.

Of the total offences committed across all of the suburbs in Esperance, 25 per cent were drug related - more than double the statewide average.

While acknowledging that drugs were a significant problem statewide, Esperance Police sergeant Alan Keogh said drugs did seem to be particularly prevalent in Esperance and most concerning was the flow-on effect to the community.

"Harm minimisation to the public is a big priority of ours, as is deterrence," he said.

"Because we're so close to the border, it seems to be pretty prevalent. We don't really have one issue that stands out more than the others, apart from petty offences. Stealing and shoplifting is rife.

"Drugs are probably our second, and that's because of the flow-on effect.

"People want money to buy it, and it leads to theft and dwelling burglary.

"When someone is drug-affected, and doing things they shouldn't in public, who do they call? Us.

"We go and we deal with them as best we can but, nine times out of 10, they need some kind of medical or mental assistance. That ties up the health system.

"Our hospital is wonderful, but it doesn't have secure facilities for those that are drug-induced. It puts nurses, doctors and other patients at risk. It's that flow-on effect of cost and harm to the community."

Sergeant Keogh said Esperance Police and detectives were working on a number of operations to stem the flow of the drug into Esperance, including targeted drug swipes and utilising the new Meth Enforcement Vans.

"We target people with roadside drug swipes and we average two to three a week and, predominantly, it's methamphetamine," he said.

"Out of all of the results that we get back from the chemistry centre, cannabis is a minor player, and it used to be the other way around.

"That's why we actively target meth, deploying the new meth bus around the Goldfields region tends to stem the flow of meth into Esperance."

Sergeant Keogh attributed the decrease in crime in the townsite to the community being more vigilant and an increase in staff.

He said resources would now be deployed to the surrounding areas identified as the crime hotspots.

"I think it's [the decrease] a result of a number of things, including people being more vigilant and reporting suspicious activity," he said.

"In that timeframe, we also had a staffing increase here of about three officers.

"We had more patrol hours and more police vehicles out on the street.

"Since 2010, we've also seen an advance in technology, fingerprint identification, and businesses updating their CCTV. We get a lot of stealing from local businesses.

" We have identified hotspots where detected crime has increased and they are more of a focus now.

"We ascertain when these offences are occurring and deploy more resources there, which is a deterrent and a proactive measure, and we will be throwing more resources at those identified areas."