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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1499..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

We are not talking in the motion about legislative problems and things like that. That is for another day. We are talking about resources. We need to see those documents and we need to do all we can for the AFP.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (5.16): I echo the hope of the minister that we are not entering an era where we are going to see law and order issues sensationalised. We agree that the principal business of policing involves responding to crime and managing community safety. Crime is not running out of control in this city. The Canberra community expresses high levels of feeling safe. However, I do not minimise the impact of crime on victims, their families and friends. Crime is here with us, and at levels not atypical of an urban community. Therefore it exists to such an extent as to warrant that we never be complacent about it and that we respond responsibly.

In recent years, we have had serious concerns about some offences and patterns of offending. We have recognised the concern on large-volume property crime, particularly burglary and motor vehicle theft. We have recognised that we need to do more to protect people in relationships with respect to domestic violence and sexual assault. We have recognised that we need to face child protection and assault square on.

This government has acted responsibly to each of these concerns. We have in place a property crime reduction strategy targeting burglary and motor vehicle theft, and it is working. We have a family violence intervention project that is the envy of many other jurisdictions. We have tackled child protection and child assaults and dramatically increased resources in this area.

Let us set the record straight on crime and analyse the data police provide for the criminal justice statistical profile tabled this month. When looking at crime statistics and, indeed, many other forms of statistics, short-term trends are often volatile. Criminologists agree that the longer term trend provides a more accurate picture. For assaults or acts intended to cause injury, in the quarter to December 2005, there was an increase of 16 per cent to 525 from the 444 assaults reported in the September 2005 quarter. But the year-to-date comparisons showed a smaller, 2.6 per cent increase, with 1,912 assaults reported between March 2005 and December 2005, after 1,864 between March 2004 and December 2004.

While acknowledging the small increase, it is not indicative of crime out of control. There is a respected field of criminological research that indicates that an increase in recorded crime for assaults might be evidence that policies on domestic violence and child abuse are beginning to bite. In other words, programs that include mandatory reporting, pro-arrest policies and support for victims encourage higher rates of reporting of offences that are traditionally underreported.

Sexual assaults were 96 in December 2005, after the 74 reported in September 2005, a 23 per cent rise and the highest quarter in 12 months. Year-to-date comparisons show a decrease of 15 per cent, with 279 sexual assaults reported between March 2005 and December 2005, after 328 between March 2004 and December 2004.

Robbery decreased by 17 per cent in December 2005, with 65 cases reported, after 78 reported in September 2005. Year-to-date comparisons show an increase of 3 per cent


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