Page 1454 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005
staffing. The Greens see crime as symptomatic of problems much more complex than can be solved by just putting more police in the streets. To assist in solving these much more complex social problems that lead to crime, I advocate the direction of ACT government funding into community policing as one part of the greater solution. Community policing in general terms is about police officers being a more positive part of the community and the community knowing their local officers.
However, crime prevention is best achieved by the broader policies of reducing poverty, overcoming disadvantage, having programs to prevent people from and help them to stop drug and alcohol abuse, and addressing the causes of violence and abuse. It needs to be noted that much of the crime that occurs in Australia, and of course in the ACT, occurs in places where increasing police observance by putting them out on the streets will not help. That is because most crime still occurs in the home, especially violent crimes and sexual crimes.
The information that I am using is based on the annual report by the Australian Institute of Criminology, which gathers all the statistics in regard to not only the location of crime but also who is most likely to cause that crime. I guess it is no surprise that certain kinds of crime are committed by people who are known to the victim or, in many cases, are part of the family of the victim. We cannot get away from that, and those statistics are not going to be helped by putting more police in the streets. In fact, the ACT has some good programs in process to assist with that kind of domestic violence.
I see this kind of motion as something that has become quite predictable from conservative realms, and it must be quite a winner with the community because it is raised over and over again in election campaigns. It was raised in the Western Australian election campaign recently, where both Liberal and Labor were trying to outdo each other on being tough on crime. The funny thing is that, while the rhetoric gets stronger and stronger, what we are doing is actually creating a perception among certain parts of the community that they are at risk, whereas the fact is that people living on their own are probably at less risk than people living with some other people.
We really need to increase security for people but also increase their sense of security. An effective and community-minded police force is important, but by itself it will not reduce crime. I do believe that there is a space in our community for Neighbourhood Watch programs that come from the community and are very much about strengthening neighbourhood networks. I think Neighbourhood Watch is one of those organisations that can be used to support conservative ends as well, but I do believe that where it arises from a community’s perceived need it has a very legitimate part to play.
The motion refers to Gungahlin police station. I note that all police stations in the ACT are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for Gungahlin police station, which is open from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm every day. It is easy to argue, just from looking at that, that Gungahlin should not be an exception to the rule. However, advice provided to my office is that Gungahlin has a very low incidence of crime and there is, at this point, no great need for the station to be open 24 hours a day.
Mr Pratt: Talk to Neighbourhood Watch up there.