Youth crime gangs run riot in quiet suburban street

UPDATE 4PM: IPSWICH City Council have returned on one occasion to fix a fence blocking access between Lewis and Kerwick Sts at Redbank.

"A fence was installed in August this year in response to requests from the local community," a spokesperson said.
 
"It had very minor damage shortly after installation and was repaired soon after."
 
"There have been no recent reports of damage."

CRIME MAP: Redbank crime rates August to November 2016.
CRIME MAP: Redbank crime rates August to November 2016. Contributed

 

EARLIER: TUCKED between homes in a quiet residential Redbank street lies the vandalised solution to youth street crime.

A fence blocking the alleyway access between Kerwick and Lewis Sts was erected temporarily in August in a bid to limit gangs of youth offenders hiding and running from police.

Three months later and local residents have lost count of how many times the fence has been damaged.

More than 100 offences in the local area have been reported to police since January, 11 of which were reported in the last three months.

Redbank Community Group founder Vickie Allen-Hoens said the fence was proposed as a temporary solution and while she had noticed a reduction in crime rates, it was proving as little deterrent to groups of juvenile offenders.

"We wanted it here because they were using it as quick escape for the plaza to the train station or from the station to the plaza," Ms Allen-Hoens said.

"What happens is if they steal something from the plaza, or even at night time they can hide down here because it's not very well lit. You can hide down here and not be seen.

"It's quite dangerous down here."

LAST STRAW: Redbank Community Group founder Vickie Allen-Hoens said vandals had already destroyed a safety fence on Lewis St since its instalment in August.
LAST STRAW: Redbank Community Group founder Vickie Allen-Hoens said vandals had already destroyed a safety fence on Lewis St since its instalment in August. Inga Williams

She said community safety was at the forefront of the original fence proposal which eventuated after several community meetings with Ipswich City Council earlier this year.

"It will take something really tragic to happen and it will. I hope it doesn't but i think that's what it will take before something happens," she said.

"We're just trying to keep Redbank safe, it's a little community town here and we're like a family. We just want to keep everyone safe and that's all that matters at the end of the day, that everyone is safe in their own homes.

"The group was a way for us to pull together like a country town and say we're not going to stand for it, we're going to look after each other."

Residents have resorted to spending hundreds of dollars to protect their property against crime with security cameras, offences Ms Allen-Hoens said were mostly committed by juveniles.

"I think it's primarily juvenile offenders and I'm talking about children between 10 and 12 years old. I don't know why they do and I don't know if their parents know where they are," she said.

"They're like a protected species. No one is going to step up to the plate and say these kids need to be dealt with. These kids know what they can get away with, they know nothing is going to happen and they just don't care.

"They can be quite scary, they are very intimidating especially to the elderly. When they're running up and down the street with bats and threatening to do terrible things it's intimidating and these people are scared.

"It's sad because once it's dark people are too scared to come out of their homes. It's not on and it's not fair."

Ms Allen-Hoens represents the Redbank community who are calling for a more permanent solution to gangs of youths running the local streets.

Redbank resident Troy New sat in Ipswich District Court last week as a teenager and a 21-year-old man were sentenced for their role in his assault.

Troy New
Troy New Emma Clarke

Mr New said a gang of up to 30 youths followed him to the pub in December 2013 demanding cigarettes before they bashed him.

Speaking outside court with his step-sister, Crystal Peterson, he said the elderly community were scared of packs of youths committing crime on the streets.

"It's unfair to be afraid of an eight-year-old," Ms Peterson said.

"I can't even walk to the train station without a group of them hitting me up for smokes."

During sentencing Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren said the group was a "lawless pack that runs the streets".

"The community expects some protection from gangs of young men who have nothing better to do than set upon people with weapons," Judge Horneman-Wren said.


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