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Townsville police warn vigilantes to stop

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Jamie McKinnell

Vigilante groups in north Queensland have been warned by police their amateur attempts to reduce Townsville's high youth crime rate are only making matters worse.

A crackdown over the past two months, during which an initial 30 extra police were deployed to the regional centre, has resulted in 729 people being arrested and police issuing more than 1600 charges.

Throughout the course of the operation, police have been targeting property crime in particular and say 76 young offenders were arrested in the first month.

But there have also been reports of fed-up locals taking matters into their own hands.

Inspector Joe Kitching warned those groups to stop.

"All it does is perpetuate the issues and heighten the levels of violence across town," he said on Tuesday.

Insp Kitching admitted the city had seen a "dramatic rise in crime", particularly property offences, but said anecdotally the same thing was happening across Australia.

He said he "completely understood" the intention to identify offenders, but the energy spent by vigilantes on chasing them down would be better spent on reporting incidents.

The ongoing problems have fuelled suggestions a partial solution may lie in the services of a police helicopter or contracted private aircraft.

New Police Minister Mark Ryan will travel to Townsville next week to meet with local police after being briefed by Commissioner Ian Stewart.

"I am open to listening to all suggestions to address crime in Townsville," Mr Ryan said.

Police Union president Ian Leavers said he had spoken with Mr Ryan about the problems.

Insp Kitching said current police resourcing was sufficient for an intelligence-driven response.

"We are in a position where we can deploy our police in the right place at the right time," he said.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the government was led by the advice of the commissioner on matters of resourcing.

"We will each and every year, as part of the budget process, give consideration to what the operational requirements are for the Queensland Police Service," he said.

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