Just eight families are single-handedly ripping apart the West Dubbo community, and the area's infamous Gordon Estate, police have revealed. These are families with up to 20 to 25 members in each — many of whom are professional criminals either dealing in drugs or leading the way in property crimes
The police are catching them and putting them before the courts. However, in what has become a major frustration for officers, the offenders are quickly released and returning to the estate, to their same cohorts and to the same crimes.
"There is a real problem here with the ongoing release of people through the court system — they're beating us out on to the streets," Superintendent Stuart Smith said. "You can catch a 12 to 13-year-old in a high speed, dangerous pursuit where we have had to deploy road spikes to stop them. Then we have hours of paperwork to put them before the court but what happens is they're back out the next day. This is a nightly event."
Superintendent Smith was speaking after the most recent outbreak of lawlessness when five cars were stolen and dumped in the estate early yesterday. Two of these were gutted by fire and one of them was driven through the fence of an abandoned house.
Meanwhile, one officer hit with a brick during a riot on New Year's Day has metal plates in his head, permanent eye damage, and will need dental reconstruction. Police hope he will one day be able to return to work.
Additional police are being sent to the area to keep a lid on any other violent outbreaks.
The sound of screeching tyres tearing through the estate is something to which many residents have become accustomed. Aboriginal elder Stephen Gibson fears a culture of crime has been created in the estate.
"I grew up in Dubbo and I never thought I would see it like this," he said. Superintendent Smith admitted the problems faced in the Gordon Estate were far from easy but he also could not see his officers alone providing the magic pill.
One aspect he is keen to encourage is for the indigenous elders to take on a more active role and become the voice of the community, to lead their people out of the crime consuming the suburb.
"What we want is to put [the elders] back where they belong — in charge of their people," Superintendent Smith said.
The issues facing the State Government and residents seem countless and all impact upon crime: Unemployment, truancy, alcoholism, welfare dependency, drug addiction, domestic violence ... the list goes on.
"There are real problems out here," Superintendent Smith said. "The time for talking about them is over and the time for doing something is now upon us."