Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 885..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
cooperation between police and the community and with timely and accurate reporting of crime and a sensible adoption of crime prevention strategies, they can also maintain their important role as a community hub and a focus for community life.
It is all too easy to assert that crime occurs and what a terrible and horrible thing it is. Any incident, of course, is a matter of great concern and much regret for those people who have suffered it, as well as those who hear about it and seek to assist. The police at all times respond in as timely and responsive a way as possible to address concerns and to address reports of crime or antisocial behaviour. But it is wrong of Mr Pratt and those opposite to try to create the impression that there is a crime wave in the ACT. It is simply not the case.
The figures from the police do not support the assertions made by those opposite. It is cheap and tawdry politics to make the claim that crime is rampant and out of control in Canberra when overall offences against people and property have decreased by over 20 per cent, or nearly a quarter, since this government was first elected in 2001.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.24): Firstly, on the last point made by Mr Corbell, Mr Pratt has already given some figures from the ACT criminal justice statistics profile for the September quarter of last year. I think it is a complete furphy for the minister to say that crime has dropped by 20 per cent. As was said, in the last quarter of the former Liberal government, December 2001, the offences totalled 10,188. For the last lot of statistics, the September 2005 quarter, the figure was 10,376. That is a slight increase; it is not a 20 per cent drop.
There may be, Mr Corbell, a drop if you go back to the December figure, which was about 12,500 as opposed to 10,376, but a few things happened then. There was Operation Halite and there was Operation Anchorage. There were also significant changes to the Bail Act which certainly brought about a very significant drop in the number of recidivists reoffending. It is interesting that, unfortunately, the total number of offences has gone up from 8,547 in the March quarter of last year to 10,376.
No, we are not like New York and we are not like some other parts of Australia, but there are worrying figures. It certainly worries me when I get complaints about what is occurring at shopping centres, especially from elderly people and from shopkeepers who try their best and do take all the steps to be sensible in terms of their businesses, yet still have problems. I will give an example of what happened at Charnwood recently.
I commend the police, as does the newsagent, on coming out to assist with about five break-ins he had in the space of three months, one of which was quite spectacular and which had never been seen before in the territory; that is, 41 mailboxes being just ripped out and their contents being taken away and strewn around some of the back streets of Charnwood. The police came out from Civic because there were not enough cars and enough police available from Belconnen. Yes, they got there as soon as they could, but they had had to come from elsewhere in Canberra. In other instances, they were unable to come.
In a more recent incident in the computer shop there some young hoons were hassling customers and really making a distinct nuisance of themselves. Again, the police had immense difficulty in getting there because of other jobs and a sheer lack of numbers.