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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1026 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Minister, you know that since Labor was last in office your government has presided over a reduction in the rate of sworn police officers per 100,000 population in the ACT. The ACT then had a rate of 223 sworn police officers per 100,000 population, against the national average of 218 per 100,000 population, whereas now, even with your 50 extra, you have a rate of only 208 per 100,000 population. It is obvious that crime in the ACT is out of control and that your government has given up on catching criminals. Is it not true that the strike teams are having only a marginal effect on crime and that a continuous approach to crime prevention is needed, not just your bandaid solutions?

MR SMYTH: In the AFP, we have a very modern and very competent police force that targets crime. They use intelligence-based policing to make sure that this occurs. If we are talking about support for police and Mr Hargreaves wants to make comparisons between the support-

Mr Hargreaves: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question does not go to support for the police; it goes to these figures.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Continue, Minister.

MR SMYTH: Mr Hargreaves, in his question, made comparisons between police numbers under Labor and police numbers under this government. If he wishes to raise comparisons in his question, then surely comparisons in answers are worth while. With the commitment this government has made compared to the all-time low that occurred in 1995 under Labor, the number of police officers has steadily increased. This government's commitment to funding officers to carry out their tasks has also increased. It is curious that this is the party that voted against every single budget that gave increases to police funding.

We have had some disturbing figures in crime results recently. The police are looking at those, and last year and again this year have had task forces and strike teams to address that crime. At the same time, prevention being better than cure, the community policing initiative started under Mr Humphries. Community police are now out there building relationships with communities to work towards the prevention of crime.

Mr Hargreaves may stand here and quote figures and make comparisons, but these are the people who have voted against every budget that increased police numbers and police support since we have been in government. Our initiatives, I believe, will be successful in combating crime.

MR HARGREAVES: I have a supplementary question. Given the disastrous state of affairs indicated by your own reports, and I suggest you go and compare them, do you still think that a 20 per cent reduction of crime is appropriate, let alone achievable?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I will not even speak in my defence. I will let Commander McDevitt say that the AFP will achieve it. Commander McDevitt said this at the latest briefing. The AFP will achieve the 20 per cent reduction that they have said is the target. They will endeavour to go further. If you look at the first four weeks of Operation Anchorage, the figures have gone down significantly. Indeed, in the weeks before Anchorage, there was something like 200 burglaries a week. In the second week of Anchorage I think it went down to 85.

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