Grant targets crime

Lake Illawarra local area crime prevention officer Mark Scott at the site in Oak Flats that will receive $25,000 as part of the Shellharbour City Council's Safer Public Places project. Picture: ELIZA WINKLER

Lake Illawarra local area crime prevention officer Mark Scott at the site in Oak Flats that will receive $25,000 as part of the Shellharbour City Council's Safer Public Places project. Picture: ELIZA WINKLER

VANDALISM and anti-social behaviour have been targeted in a Shellharbour City Council bid to reduce crime hotspots in the Oak Flats precinct.

The council has approved a $25,000 grant as part of a Safer Public Places project in an effort to reduce youth crime on Central Avenue in Oak Flats.

Over the past 12 months the council had spent about $21,000 on malicious damage repair and graffiti removal from the Oak Flats library and RSL Sub branch.

The project comes under the NSW Crime Prevention Grants Program which aims to reduce anti-social behaviour and prevent malicious damage to council facilities.

The grant will provide funds for fencing, lighting and signage to help reduce repair costs and create a safer community precinct.

Lake Illawarra LAC crime prevention officer Mark Scott said the project came about in response to complaints from businesses.

"The area has generally been a bit of a local hang for youth around the age of 10 to 16, that hang around for long periods of time in the day and night," he said.

"There has been a few incidents of graffiti and complaints from shopkeepers.

"We have tried to talk with the kids and educate them to let them know how their behaviour can affect others.

"But the project is a preventative measure which should stop any direct malicious damage or break-ins.

"Once the fence goes up it will protect the buildings from any further vandalism and damage."

Geoff Egan said his business backs onto the area and he was pleased to see it being looked at for crime prevention.

"The spot has the potential for crime and a lot of youth seem to hang about in that area," Mr Egan said.

"If we can make the area more visible at night then people can't hide and get up to mischief.

"The biggest problem is that it could just push them to another area but only time will tell and it then becomes another problem somewhere else, but at this stage it's a good step."

Senior constable said together with other units they were working on running educational programs for youth groups at the PCYC.

"At the end of the day it's not about crime and punishments it's about education," Senior constable Scott said.

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