Give pub­lic facts and let them de­cide

The Advertiser - - LETTERS -

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.

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