Sutherland adopts hard line against antisocial behaviour

Sutherland Shire Council’s strong stance against antisocial behaviour seems to be paying dividends since the rollout of its ‘Anti Social Behaviour Strategy’ early in 2009.

Located in southern Sydney, Sutherland covers 335 square kilometres and has a population of almost 220,000 people.

New South Wales Police figures show a nine per cent fall in malicious damage offences in the Shire since the Anti Social Behaviour Strategy began in March 2009. They have also noticed small falls in offensive conduct, offensive language and non domestic violence assaults.

The strategy comprises 49 initiatives, many of which focus on an all of community approach to tackling antisocial behaviour, together with police, teachers, sports groups, the liquor industry, and community and youth services.

“Antisocial behaviour is a widespread problem, not just in our area but everywhere,” Sutherland Mayor Lorraine Kelly said. “We believe it is important that the entire community takes responsibility and plays a part in preventing graffiti, public drunkenness, property damage and other elements of antisocial behaviour.”

Among the highlights of the program was the launch of the ‘Get-A-GRIP’ (Graffiti Removal and Intervention Program) in March 2010. Get-A-GRIP gives offenders the chance to participate in graffiti removal and provides an avenue for police to refer offenders who have been caught and have received a warning under the Young Offenders Act.

The program is run in conjunction with local police, the Police and Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) and the Department of Juvenile Justice as a way to engage young people to clean up graffiti.

Mayor Kelly said Council has also launched its first volunteer graffiti removal program in partnership with Menai Community Resource Centre. It is part of an ongoing plan to work with the community to reduce graffiti.

Mayor Kelly said the Anti Social Behaviour Strategy has also involved Sutherland joining with other beachside Mayors to lobby the New South Wales Government for legislative reform relating to liquor licensing and graffiti offenders. She said Council has also worked to improve communication between teachers, youth services and police by hosting regular principals’ forums.