Community campaign to break youth crime cycle
WARWICK police have promised to crack down on young criminals, but some residents are calling for a more community-focused approach.
According to Warwick Police officer-in-charge Jamie Deacon, most of the town’s youth crime, from vandalism to property theft, was committed by a small group of repeat offenders.
Snr Sgt Deacon added citing boredom as justification was a “cop-out”, and parents needed to intervene before chronic reoffending turned into adult criminality.
However, for former SDRC mayoral candidate Joe Doepel, breaking the cycle of youth crime will require creating more spaces and activities designed for teens and young adults.
Mr Doepel’s primary vision involved turning the old Bunnings site on Palmerin St into a 50s-style diner and arcade, complete with a rollerskating rink and bowling alley.
“Kids in Warwick have nowhere to go and nothing to do. That’s why they end up doing drugs, going into crime, that sort of thing,” Mr Doepel said.
“When I was in my teens and 20s, we used to go to the arcade and that sort of thing all the time, and when they closed it was like the family had been taken out of the city.
“This would be somewhere the kids can just go themselves, mingle, and meet one another, and have some fun. It’d be absolute magic.”
Earlier this year, the Southern Downs Regional Council tabled other improvements to better engage the community’s youth, such as upgrades to the existing skatepark in Queens Park.
However, Warwick mother-of-three and music teacher Jayne Shelley said the onus to keep kids away crime remained with parents.
“An arcade and skaterink would definitely be cool, because sometimes kids just want to get away and don’t want to be with their parents,” Mrs Shelley said.
“However, my dad’s motto was always ‘if you keep your kids busy, they can’t get into trouble’, and I think we as parents need to take responsibility for keeping our kids engaged in activities.
“Honestly, I do think there’s a lot to do in Warwick, you just have to find it.”