Latrobe police crack down on parole breaches

During their first weekend on duty Latrobe Proactive Taskforce police realised they had a lot of work ahead.

The newly-formed specialist task unit is targeting breaches of bail and parole conditions and last weekend completed 25 bail compliance checks across the district.

Of those 14 were found in breach of their conditions.

Taskforce leader, Acting Senior Sergeant Mick Thek, said police were cracking down on these offenders in a bid to reduce the rising crime rate.

“In the past when offenders have been bailed there has been very little time for police to follow up and ensure their bail conditions are met,” Act Snr Sgt Thek said.

Recent statistics revealed crime across Latrobe had risen an estimated 7.9 per cent over the past 12 months ending 31 March.

Fellow officer, Acting Senior Sergeant Ben McWilliam previously told The Express about 16 per cent of the region’s offenders committed 68 per cent of the region’s crime.

But through the monitoring of curfews, alcohol restrictions and other breaches of bail, the unit hopes to minimise the number of repeat offenders – the majority of which it says are youths.

Act Snr Sgt Thek said the aim was not to prosecute; instead the unit had enlisted the help of youth specialists, including Leading Senior Constable Jeni Bennett, to guide offenders back on track through education and support services.

“We can’t charge minors with breaching bail but we can take them to court to get their bail revoked,” Act Sgt Thek said.

“Then we can link with Department of Human Services and other services through the courts to provide the assistance to prevent a repeat offence.”

Act Snr Sgt McWilliam said nowhere in the state had recidivism been targeted under such a proactive banner.

“It’s about trying to reengage these kids with the community,” he said.

“The primary aim of the taskforce is to reduce the levels of offending by these people while increasing levels of community confidence.”

The initiative is part of a three-month trial and was launched last weekend.

Its members said they were keen to see the taskforce continue.