Page 1443 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005
(e) reveal to the Assembly and the community the true strength of the ACT Police Force;
(f) increase front line policing to provide for an effective community policing presence, as Mr Hargreaves promised to do in 2001; and
(g) ensure that Gungahlin Police Station, and indeed all police stations, are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I rise today to express deep concern about the level, capability and strength of policing in the ACT and certain criminal activity and disruption in the community that appear not to be being addressed by this government. Mr Speaker, community standards are declining across the country and the ACT is no exception. The ACT is merely a small part of a broader landscape.
There have been successes round the country in reducing various categories of crime and in rebuilding community confidence. However, they have been patchy. I believe that the ACT has also experienced these trends. There have been significant crime reductions through good task force policing, but concurrent increases in less exotic but seriously disruptive and safety-threatening crime. The trend across the country appears to be towards more complex crime and excessively violent behaviour, flying in the face of general reductions in the crime patterns routinely reported by the ABS, in annual reports and in other important community indicators.
I think that most of us in the ACT feel that it is safer here than in most other cities, capital and regional. We all say that this is the place to raise kids—not Sydney or Melbourne, indeed, not even large coastal towns. We are reported to have one of the best police forces in the country. I certainly have confidence in it. Apparently, it is a police force free of corruption, well trained, well travelled and one which can operate in geographically the least prohibitive policing areas of operation in Australia. The ABS statistics, the productivity reports and ACT Policing’s 2003-04 annual report tend to tell a fairly positive story about the trends I have mentioned, but that is not the complete picture.
However, despite the positive messages coming out of a range of reports, the community will not rest on its laurels and the community expects the same of the government and its police force. The community is wary of the deterioration of community standards across Australian society, the assault on our sensibilities and the growing pressures on our children and teenagers, and the community knows that the ACT is not immune to the national rot. Furthermore, the community is experiencing a level of public disorder, hooliganism, threats to property and personal safety, and general disrespect that is far from acceptable.
The community concern and loss of confidence about that flies in the face of the improving or stable statistics that I have referred to. The police annual report, one of the more honest and meaningful annual reports I have seen for 2003-04, demonstrates this level of concern. Amongst some good reports, we were advised that 68.6 per cent of the people of the ACT were concerned about motor vehicle theft, 1.6 per cent above the national average. That figure has come down, and come down a long way, but it had to because the ACT was the car theft capital of Australia for quite some time. The figure for