Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 April 2005) . . Page.. 1446 ..
that cannot happen if police do not have the resources to follow up always adequately reported incidents. It cannot happen if, when they arrive at the scene of a crime or an emerging crime, perhaps a fracas in the making, the one or two police in a car do not feel that they are going to be followed up. They are not going to have the confidence to deal with those sorts of complex issues. That is the problem we have. The minister and this government are not resourcing our police to give them the depth and the backup so that they grow that confidence to deal with these incidents when they arrive on site after the community has asked them to do so.
The ACT property crime reductions strategy 2004-07, another wonderful, glossy, spin-doctored document, talks about putting a particular focus on targeting repeat offenders. How can the police catch repeat offenders when they fail to fingerprint crime scenes—due, I imagine, to a lack of resources—which in many cases would identify repeat offenders?
The strategy goes on to say that new initiatives include “targeting young people who are on the cusp of entering the criminal justice system”. How can they do that if they do not attend to things such as serious reports of violent bullying, which are often a precursor to other serious crimes later in life, or if they do not crack down on burnouts and hooligan driving? I notice that, according to the statistics in the reports we have, there has finally been a crackdown on burnouts in the last four to six weeks, but it has taken a long time. Will that be maintained?
The comment that the minister has made about targeting young offenders is sensible, but I fear that it is empty rhetoric. This is the very nub of this motion that I have put down here today. It is the lower level crime, though still personally dangerous and life-threatening crime, that is not being responded to and not followed up, that is the problem. The minister and his police are not intervening to reduce this level of crime. Consequently, young offenders operate with impunity and are confidently graduating to more serious crime.
I will raise a few issues later about the more serious levels of crime. But at this point, I put it to this Assembly that we have a serious issue to address here. Yes, we have some policing statistics that show useful reductions in some levels of serious crime, but we know that the responses are not occurring for a whole range of activities. We know too from some of the statistics that the community is not as confident as it should be and that, because we are not getting a clear debate on the numbers and the strength of our police, it is highly likely that our police force, while trying to do a good job, is simply overstretched and unable to provide the safety that the community deserves.
MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.14): Before addressing some other issues, I think it is important that I address some of the things that Mr Pratt said. Firstly, in the middle of what he said there was a throwaway line that either the government or the police actually criticised people making complaints. Let me reject that out of hand. It was an absolute nonsense statement and, if anything, it detracted from some of the things that Mr Pratt was saying. I congratulate Mr Pratt for raising the issue. I know that he has a passionate concern about it. But I think that he was wrong, and dramatically so, in proposing that argument. I do not want