Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt this week met with senior representatives from the Queensland Police Service and Bentley Park College to look at ways to protect school property following a spate of theft and vandalism attacks.

“This year theft and loss estimated at more than $20,000, more than half of which has occurred in the past three months alone,” Mr Pitt said.

“Only last month, the community suffered another setback when the college library was broken into and severely damaged after fire hoses were turned on.

“There is no single action that will stop this activity. Rather, a range of measures must be implemented as part of a successful school security strategy.

“Acting Operations Coordinator Brent Carter has committed to immediately move training of the Police dog squad to the school grounds, increasing the police presence and visibility at the college.

“From the first week of school next year, two officers will regular attend the school through the ‘Adopt a Cop’ program in order to start the process of building respect for the law and allowing students to understand the role of Police Officers in the community.”

However Mr Pitt said that community vigilance continued to be one of the most effective tools to protect school property from vandalism and burglary.

“I’m working in partnership with the school and police to set up a formal School Watch program with residents who neighbour the school,” Mr Pitt said.

“Right across the State, community members have been crucial in reducing the cost of insurance claims for break and enters and vandalism at state schools in the past 12 months by 15 per cent.

“The School Watch Hotline operates 24 hours a day and receives, on average, 70 calls a month from community members reporting suspicious activities in school grounds.”

Mr Pitt said it is everyone’s responsibility to do our very best to protect the state school facilities which are often targeted by would-be thieves, vandals and arsonists during the extended Christmas break.

“State schools will be closed for more than six weeks from Friday 11 December 2009 to Wednesday, 27 January 2010,” Mr Pitt said.

“I urge community-minded people to contacting the hotline on 13 17 88 if they notice anything suspicious as these reports often lead to damage to school property being minimised.”

Mr Pitt said other school security measures included intruder detection devices and alarms, and surveillance by police, State Government and private security officers.

“School security patrols will be a regular sight throughout the region during the coming school holidays,” Mr Pitt said.

“In 2009 -10 the State Government allocated $4.096 million to the School Security Program to help reduce security-related incidents in schools.

“A $20,000 security upgrade is commencing shortly at Bentley Park College and perpetrators of these senseless attacks are on notice.

Mr Pitt said there is a large juvenile population in the fast growing suburbs of Edmonton, which includes Bentley Park and Mount Sheridan, where approximately 30 percent of the population is under the age of 18 years.

“Juvenile crime is increasingly becoming a major community issue in these suburbs and there is always more to be done to increase the range of diversionary activities in the area.” Mr Pitt said.

“I will continue to work with Cairns Regional Council and the Federal Government on a joint project to establish a multi-purpose indoor sports facility in Edmonton which I’d like to see include a PCYC program.”

Mr Pitt said the issue of truancy has also been raised with him during meetings with community members and retailers in the area and he is working with the school and community members on approaches for next year.