Page 282 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 2008
norm, to create a perception that these events are likely to occur to all in the community, if not today then more likely tomorrow. Tabloid reporting is no substitute for balanced, compassionate, evidence-based public policy when it comes to community safety.
There is ample research that shows that this sort of sensationalist reporting and commentary may lead to raised but misplaced fear of crime, especially amongst the more vulnerable in our community, such as the elderly and the very young. Fear of crime, when it is misplaced, is debilitating. It keeps vulnerable people indoors, afraid to venture out. It depopulates public places and public events, and in the ACT it is simply uncalled for.
I would like to talk briefly about a range of issues that the government is investing in when it comes to providing for a safer community. The first area I would like to talk about is the area of services for victims of crime. Services for victims of crime is one of the highest priorities of this government, and we will continue to deliver in this area. In November last year, I launched Victim Support ACT, which is a new agency within the Department of Justice and Community Safety, creating a “one-stop shop” for victims of crime. Victim Support ACT brings together the counselling and recovery team from the former victims services scheme and staff from the Victims of Crime Coordinator’s Office to support victims in the justice system, ensuring victims receive a more cohesive response. It is about making it easier for victims, their families and those affected by crime to access the full range of services that are available to them. The government has also signalled legislative reform for victims on its agenda, and work has begun in this area.
I would like to think that, as a government, we take a balanced view on matters of community safety, whether it is in regard to crime prevention, responding to crime, legislative reform or broader issues of safety in relation to emergency management and ambulance and fire services. Yesterday, I told the Assembly what the government had put in place to respond to the recent publicised and, it could be said, sensationalised incidents in Civic and Manuka. Our response has been broad and multilevel and includes elements of law enforcement, such as a review of liquor licensing regulation, the introduction of on-the-spot fines for certain types of street offences, expansion of the use of CCTV throughout the city, providing additional security on taxi ranks, implementation of the Nightlink service, and working with the taxi industry to move people more quickly from late-night entertainment areas. I will not go into those again. I will focus instead on the crime data and what it tells us about community safety.
Crime data which will be released in the Assembly in March this year as part of the December 2007 quarterly ACT criminal justice statistical profile indicates that, over the long term, crime in Canberra is generally trending down. The release of the December 2007 report indicated that the trend for offences, including assaults, sexual assaults and property damage offences, remains steady. The five-year trend indicates that decreases are apparent for crimes such as burglary, break and enter, motor vehicle theft and weapons offences. Increases are apparent for robbery, extortion and related offences.