Page 1445 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005
and has been doing it for two years without anybody catching him? There have been concerns about the lack of police response to phone calls at Tuggeranong police station. We know of the concerns about Gungahlin station, which is not manned beyond 10.00 pm.
A letter to residents concerning Operation Halite recently said that “any information about crimes, regardless of how trivial, should be reported to police as it could provide the vital link”. Today, Mr Hargreaves put out a press release again urging the community to report burnout offences, and so we should. But residents are disturbed that, despite repeated phone calls to police to provide details, these reports are not followed up. If they are, the police say they cannot prove who was the driver of the vehicle. The police do not have the resources to follow up on all these reports.
The crux of the community concern goes back to there being only a very low level of police presence. Residents rarely see them around their suburbs, in their group centres and shopping centres or on the roads. Shopkeepers and business owners do not see our police force. They cannot engage with the police to provide the sorts of regular and valuable intelligence that these people are well known for in terms of preventive policing and the provision and collation of community-based intelligence.
The minister tells me that we have an intelligence-based and led policing strategy. That is fine, but there are two levels of intelligence: that which we receive from national and other sources and, the most important intelligence, that which we receive from the coalface, from community familiarity, from a police presence whereby our police confidently know the community and the community confidently knows the police. In recent weeks I have had a lot of feedback about graffiti, vandalism and break-ins around the Mawson, Chisholm and Erindale shopping centres, and they go on and on.
We do not entirely blame the police. I am disappointed with that litany of incidents which paints a lack of response and follow-up. I am disappointed with that and I am critical of the police about that; I certainly am. But my major criticism is aimed at this government for not resourcing and for not supporting our police. If this government does not support and resource the police, of course their performance will suffer. When the performance of the police suffers, they will attract criticism, and some of that criticism will be unfair. But if we are going to put confidence back into our community that our police are able to take care of this lower level of criminality, which is not necessarily reflected in ABS reports and annual reports, we need to see our police resourced and our police need to be confident that they are going to be resourced.
Mr Hargreaves, in his first ministerial statement for the current Assembly, made some bold assertions about how the ACT government would be managing the police portfolio and dealing with crime in the ACT. He said, “Refining how crime may be best addressed in the future is a constant and important public policy debate.” Crime might be best addressed by providing enough police resources to start with, and that does not need to be debated. Secondly, the minister said, “The government is committed to providing quality policing to the ACT.” Mr Speaker, ensuring a quality police force also requires quantity to ensure that police are adequately resourced to provide a quality service.
Thirdly, he said, “Customer service and professionalism are key elements in this strategy, and are fundamental to enhancing community contact and cooperation.” Again,