Being boisterous and young is not a crime according to Superintendent Paul Roberts, officer in charge of the Far North Local Service Area.
Police have been concerned with the growing rumours regarding an increase in youth crime in Port Augusta, which they claim are misaligned with reality.
Superintendent Roberts said every summer there is an influx of people into Port Augusta – particularly young people who tend to congregate in the central business district and foreshore – but although they can be noisy and intimidating, they are not out of control or driving up crime.
“We have a tactical team in place policing the CBD and foreshore, plus we work with a range of agencies and services to engage with this influx of community members,” he said.
Rumours began circulating after many residents started posting on social media about their unpleasant experiences in the CBD.
“Not everything posted on social media is true,” Superintendent Roberts said, urging locals to follow the SAPOL site for factual information.
Don’t believe second-hand information, or share unsubstantiated reports on social media. This kind of misreporting leads to community fear that is just not merited.
“We have a zero tolerance stance in relation to anti-social behaviour and criminal activity, but I would stress that many of the reports we’ve seen on social media are exaggerated or simply not substantiated.”
Following the statement released by SAPOL residents once again took to online community forums to share their grievances.
Statement backlash: community continues to disagree
One Facebook user called for even more help from law enforcement.
“So SAPOL says Port Augusta hasn't a problem. On closing time at Woolies. There was a group n there was a big fight. Two smashed windows. And cops were called. Now if that's not a problem...what is. It's scary for staff, customers, children n tourists. We as a Community need something done,” Tricia Neale-Frahn said.
“My grandaughters are afraid to go to the park and play. Last year their scooters were smashed and phones taken before they could ring their mother and father,” Barbara Mitchell wrote.
Others agreed with the police statement, Alwyn Mckenzie said that many of the young people travelling to Port Augusta have every right to do so.
They speak confidently in their own languages and whilst some might find this confronting in my observations they are not committing rampant anti-social behaviour in the city's centre.
Preliminary data reports from July 1 to December 29 show property damage and environmental offences are down by 22 per cent, residential serious criminal trespass offences are down by 25 per cent, theft and related offences are down by 16 per cent and public order offences have decreased by 14 per cent.
Compared to 2011, the youth crime data for 2016 also shows the number of young individuals apprehended has decreased from 152 to 80.
Superintendent Roberts said it was important that the community call police about any issues that arose, as it was difficult for police to take action when they are not directly advised of incidents.
“Police do not take these reductions in reports and apprehensions to mean that our job is done,” he said.
“We take all reports of crime in Port Augusta very seriously and will continue to work hard to make our community a safer place.
“But I urge the community to consider the facts before becoming overly alarmed.
“Port Augusta is a safe place to work, live, visit and do business – and we will continue to ensure that is the case.”