No need to call for back-up yet

Newly re­leased fig­ures on crime and polic­ing in Queens­land in­di­cate that of­fi­cer num­bers are not an is­sue, writes

The Courier-Mail - - INSIGHT - Thomas Cham­ber­lin

IN RE­GIONAL Queens­land, res­i­dents say, it’s still safe to leave the front door unlocked. Some say there is no crime. Head into built-up city ar­eas and the feel­ing quickly changes, with the per­cep­tion that crime is soar­ing. But is it?

New fig­ures show vi­o­lent crime of­fences against peo­ple in­creased by 5 per cent in Queens­land last year.

Rob­bery of­fences in­creased by 20 per cent, assaults by 5 per cent and sex of­fences 2 per cent, ac­cord­ing to Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice fig­ures of re­ported of­fences.

The pre­lim­i­nary an­nual fig­ures show per­sonal crime of­fences in­creased by 5.5 per cent.

De­spite the spike, the num­ber of cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der and man­slaugh­ter dropped.

Prop­erty crime of­fences in­creased over the year by about 5.5 per cent. This in­cludes break-ins, which in­creased by 3 per cent.

“Other theft”, which in­cludes stolen cars and other steal­ing of­fences, in­creased by 10 per cent.

The num­ber of re­ported fraud of­fences was down 4.5 per cent.

“Other of­fences”, which in­clude drug, liquor, good or­der, weapons and traf­fic of­fences, was down about 5 per cent, while the num­ber of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or­der pro­tec­tion breaches in­creased by 2 per cent over the year.

But the num­ber of th­ese of­fences has rock­eted 81 per cent since 2013-14, when changes were made to leg­is­la­tion. Drug of­fences dropped 5 per cent over the year, with about 80,000 of­fences re­ported.

Bond Univer­sity as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of crim­i­nol­ogy and former Queens­land de­tec­tive Terry Goldswor­thy (pic­tured) said over­all there had been about a 1 per cent de­crease in the re­ported crime rate.

But he said that the sta­tis­tics were not pos­i­tive for the QPS and that in the past, an in­crease in “other of­fences” had been touted as “proac­tive polic­ing”.

There has been a re­struc­ture of re­gions and high­rank­ing of­fi­cers have been made re­dun­dant dur­ing the past five years. “If you line that up with the re­struc­ture … we’ve had no great out­comes in re­gards to polic­ing in Queens­land, when look­ing at crime rates,” Mr Goldswor­thy said. He said if there was in­creas­ing prop­erty and per­sonal crime, then the fig­ures should show in­creased crime en­force­ment. “If you are see­ing in­creases in the drug mar­kets, then you would need to see an in­crease in en­force­ment in that area (but there isn’t an in­crease),” he said. “We know prop­erty crime is linked to drug crime. “If you are look­ing at per­sonal crime, rob­beries and assaults are through the roof.” Mr Goldswor­thy said that the Northern re­gion was “far and above” the Queens­land crime rate for of­fences against the per­son and prop­erty, while the South­east­ern re­gion was ahead on of­fences against prop­erty. Bris­bane, Cen­tral and South­ern re­gions had fewer in­creases, Mr Goldswor­thy said. “When you look at other of­fences, which is in­dica­tive of po­lice ef­fort, Northern is well and truly above the state av­er­age,” he said. “For them, the num­ber of other of­fences is 736. They are do­ing a lot of en­force­ment up there in that re­gard. When you look at South­east­ern, we are be­low the state av­er­age for other of­fences, which is an in­ter­est­ing con­trast.

“The two I’d be wor­ried about look­ing at the crime rate, cer­tainly on a very ba­sic level, would be Northern and South­east­ern re­gions.

“If you were in South­east­ern re­gion, you would want to know why the rate of other of­fences is down so much,” he said.

Po­lice might not need as many tele­phone in­ter­cepts for lower-scale drug in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Mr Goldswor­thy said. Tech­nol­ogy has a role to play, but should not be at the ex­pense of ba­sic polic­ing.

He also ques­tioned po­lice in­volve­ment in “pre-crime”, when of­fi­cers were putting ef­fort into con­sort­ing of­fences, for peo­ple with pre­vi­ous crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, rather than po­ten­tial crim­i­nals.

Mr Goldswor­thy said that while more of­fi­cers would al­ways help re­duce the crime rate, Queens­land wasn’t at panic level in terms of of­fi­cer num­bers.

We know prop­erty crime is linked to drug crime TERRY GOLDSWOR­THY

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