Hannah Barry, WA Today 13/6/17

Nearly one hundred Banksia Grove residents have turned out to a ‘crisis meeting’ with Wanneroo Police after a number of residents took to social media to post about incidents of assault, violence, drug-dealing, theft and vandalism occurring in the area.

The meeting, held at Joseph Banks College, was called in response to concerns from the community about the area’s perceived high crime rate, and was attended by local police, neighbourhood watch officials and a number of concerned residents.

Residents in Wanneroo have been urged to report crimes to police, not post them on social media.

Wanneroo Police Senior Sergeant Simon Hazell said it was one of the largest turn-outs to a community meeting he had ever experienced, and helped illustrate the genuine concern posts to social media had raised in recent months.

“[The meeting] was really beneficial; it will probably help deal with the perception of crime in the area, and help put residents’ minds at ease,” he said.

“They’re not living in a crime crisis. That’s the problem; actual reported crime numbers are down. The theme was that residents are seeing, hearing and noticing anti-social behaviour and suspicious behaviour, and they’re not reporting.

“Instead they’re taking it to Facebook.”

While Senior Sergeant Hazell agreed Banksia Grove continued to be a high demand suburb, “there hasn’t been a massive increase that was touted”.

There were 780 reported offences committed in Banksia Grove throughout 2016. This is in comparison to Wanneroo, with around 1400 reported offences.

According to WA Police, while Banksia Grove has seen a rise in domestic violence and theft in recent months, it has not experienced an overall increase in reported crime.

The Wanneroo region has experienced a 16 per cent decrease in reported crime since 2016.

“This perception has been driven by Facebook comments. What we see on the books doesn’t replicate what people are seeing in their day-to-day lives,” Senior Sergeant Hazell said.

“People need to be in contact. They need to be ringing through when they think an offence is occurring. If our residents are seeing things like people swapping stolen car, hoons, and suspected drug houses, they need to report it to us.”

The meeting also included a heavy emphasis on crime prevention, including locking doors and vehicles after a spate of burglaries in the area.

“A lot of the crimes we see are preventable,” Senior Sergeant Hazell said.

“It’s a nice place to live, and it’s a really good community. It was nice to see a genuine interest from the public, and we hope to use that as leverage to educate people about protecting themselves from crime in the future.”

Residents can report crime or suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online.