Page 1456 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005
the police station. In a lot of these situations, I think the issue does come down to visibility.
I understand what the minister says about targeted policing and intelligence gathering on crime—I do not dispute that—and I am aware of the motor vehicle figures. When I was in the hotel industry, there was a major problem on Northbourne Avenue of cars being stolen from hotels—a colossal level of thefts some years ago—and it is encouraging to see that those figures have improved. But there is another level of crime, that is, the lower level crime issues that are the cause of a lot of aggravation and angst to people in the community, and it seems that they just all get too hard to deal with.
I dispute Dr Wedderburn’s view that police visibility really will not help and I will come to some illustrations in a moment of where I think it has had an impact. We have to give attention to antisocial behaviour in lower level crime because I suspect that, if you do not tackle it at that point, it does grow into more adventurous crime that is more life-threatening and more disturbing for people in our community.
The reason I have focused on the second point of Mr Pratt’s motion is that it is like the boy crying wolf: it is no good running messages to call Crime Stoppers and report crime if nothing ever happens when you ring the police. I do not know who is responsible. I have a bit of an open mind on this issue. I have had a good relationship with the police force and with the Australian Federal Police Association. I met with them prior to the election and I know a number of people in the police service. People tell me that it is an issue of resources. The minister says it is not about resources. When you talk to the police you get the impression that they feel frustrated with the fact that the courts will not impose suitable sentences. I know Mr Stefaniak has had a lot more experience than I have in dealing with these issues through police prosecution, being a defence lawyer and so on.
The fault seems to lie in multiple places, but the bottom line is that people are dissatisfied that matters they raise are not acted upon. That would give you the impression that either there is not enough resources being applied or that the whole job is too hard. I had police say to me that there is an issue with paperwork—the amount of paperwork involved on every single report. Examples were given to me of how in other parts of the world—in fact, in the city of Chicago, where I once lived—there were civilians to deal with a lot of the behind-the-scenes paperwork. But in Canberra we have a system where they follow it from go to whoa. I am not an authority in these matters to know which works best, but it would seem to me that, if you have embarked on a career of fighting crime but every time you investigate a crime you are swamped in paperwork, you are going to be a little hesitant to pursue some of those lines of inquiry.
We seem to receive many complaints from citizens about lack of results. I have been briefed on one incident that occurred in Piddington Street, Watson in late November. For the record, the PROMIS note registered this complaint as 3348786. I am advised, in the briefing that was provided to me, that this related to an incident of a wild street brawl involving a large number of young men who had attacked a particular house and violently and seriously assaulted another young man, whom, I am advised, may also have been no angel.