FURTHER reports of antisocial behaviour at Wingham Riverside Reserve has frustrated Wingham Advancement Group (WAG) members, with a call for the community to report incidents as soon as they happen.
WAG received a disturbing letter from a couple who had camped at the site over the Australia Day weekend.
While the visitors said their welcome to Wingham by the WAG members was warm and they believed the place was ideal to stay for a few days, it wasn’t until the afternoon that they said they got a taste of what was to come.
“There became a constant stream of vehicles coming and going with hooning. Our vehicles and vans were sprayed with gravel.”
They said as time wore on, even more cars turned up with intoxicated people smashing bottles and foul language from males and females.
It was estimated there were between 15-20 carloads of people involved with the antisocial behaviour continuing until 2am, finally coming to a complete stop at 3am.
“Regretfully this reflects on the community as a whole. Whilst I know this is not representative of all, it has forever tainted our opinion of this town,” the visitor said.
“I will be posting my comments on various media sites and caravan forums to warn others of what they may expect should they consider camping at the Reserve.”
Although highly concerned about the incident, WAG president, Allen Valentine said it does not reflect on Wingham as a town but rather highlights the need for people, wherever they may be in Australia, to report antisocial and criminal behaviour as soon as it happens to avoid it escalating.
Mr Valentine said antisocial behaviour at the reserve had decreased over the past two years or so because locals know WAG requests visitors to report bad behaviour and call the police.
“Some visitors have provided a car rego and description too. I have done this myself when I witnessed a 'hoon' driving display and provided the rego number to our local police who knew the offender and where to find him,” he said.
Mr Valentine said he was curious as to why the visitors did not call the police or WAG member Ron Sky, as had been recommended in the WAG flyer.
“Early action usually results in the word getting around that police are on the case at the reserve and the visits cease.
“What we ask is that visitors or locals tell us or the police that people are 'hooning' and behaving badly, are drunk and driving, and whatever else is happening.”
He said a call to the police as the incident is happening has in the past resulted in offenders either being stopped by police as they return to Taree or still at the reserve.
“This is the best result,” he said.
Mr Valentine said he doesn't believe the incident reflects on the Wingham community as a whole.
“Every community has a disruptive element that is antisocial,” he said.
“Further, we do not know that these people were all locals – it is highly likely that a number were visitors believing they can misbehave in someone else's area on a long weekend,”
Mr Valentine suggests that if people are concerned or if there is unacceptable behaviour they should not put up with it but do something about it.
“By that I mean calling the police to act to remove them,” he said.
He hopes the visitors could visit again and experience the riverside reserve as the enjoyable place it usually is for the majority of our visitors.
Although the incident was not reported at the time, Inspector John Sullivan from Manning Great Lakes Area Command said the community needs to report crime when it occurs.
“The basic message for people who see crime is that they should be ringing at the time it occurs,” he said.
He said a response is then determined after an assessment of what is happening on a priority basis.
Inspector Sullivan said highway patrols visit Wingham regularly.
“Police still patrol Wingham not only for reported incidents but to act proactively before an incident occurs. They are often in Wingham over the weekends”
He said the longest anyone in Wingham will need to wait for an urgent response is 15 minutes.