Give public facts and let them decide
WHEN it comes to public criticism, SA Police is a very risk-averse organisation that goes to great lengths and spends a lot of taxpayers’ money to try to ensure it controls the flow of information about crime levels.
One of the unfortunate side-effects is little informed knowledge in the community about the real extent of the crime problems we face.
One such problem is in the city’s West End. We knew before today that there was a problem because police in November last year applied to the State Government to make the area bounded by King William St, West Terrace, North Terrace and Currie St a “Declared Public Precinct” – made possible by new laws introduced in May.
Despite the declaration, giving police extraordinary search and arrest powers, one month later South Australia was shocked by the death of 22-year-old Jack Hanley, killed during a 5.20am brawl on Hindley St.
Authorities had offered only a vague explanation for the declaration without citing specific evidence to back up their argument. A cynical view is that hiding the statistics until today could be a tacit admission that previous attempts to solve the problem – such as the 3am lockout laws – have failed.
About 12 months after the lockout laws were introduced in 2013, SAPOL was caught doctoring figures to back up the strategy.
Enter the Opposition, which has a habit of exposing the reasons behind government action.
Its application to discover why the West End was declared an unsafe area exposes the failure of SAPOL to solve the violence problem, but also gives us vital information for our protection.
The figures are a where and when of violence avoidance. They identify crime hot spots like Hindley St and North Tce, but also safe areas. Gouger St is one of the safest areas of the city for nightlife, while Rundle St is also far safer than the West End for late-night revellers.
SAPOL should recognise there are little or no adverse consequences in transparently telling the public what is really going on in our city.