Page 292 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 2008
The ACT Fire Brigade continues to lead the nation when it comes to containing residential fires to the room that they started in. The total number of properties lost and the cost of damage from structure fires in the ACT has fallen to its lowest level in five years, excluding 2003, second only to Victoria.
I turn to ACT Policing. Police responded to 84,514 incidents in 2006-07, an average of 231.5 per day. This was an increase of 30 per cent from 2005-06, with 64,787 incidents. That means that our collective emergency services—police, ambulance and fire services—responded to 125,000 incidents last year, or 342 incidents every day.
As the Canberra community is aware, the ACT government has had an arrangement with the commonwealth for the Australian Federal Police to provide our policing in the ACT through ACT Policing. As part of this arrangement, ACT Policing reports against agreed performance measures which are monitored on a quarterly basis. Performance measures include response times, levels of crime, our community’s fear of crime, road safety, public confidence and satisfaction with our policing services. Improving community safety is an important priority for the Canberra community, the government and ACT Policing.
Let me talk about police numbers. As we have indicated, the ACT purchases a set of policing personnel through the annual purchasing agreement with ACT Policing, an arm of the Australian Federal Police. The full-time equivalent positions purchased under the current agreement totals 868. The agreement number is a minimum number that ACT Policing are expected to average per year. Discretion is given to the police to build an extended capacity at various times of the year when demand could be high.
Whilst there is always discussion about police numbers, the effectiveness of police is even more important. That is an element in contributing to community safety. While we need to ensure adequate resourcing for ACT Policing, I would like to also highlight the strategies that ACT Policing have developed and are implementing to continuously improve their services to our community. These include the ACT Policing suburban policing strategy, officer rostering, and the ACT Policing strategy for improving response times.
Let me start with the suburban policing strategy. The suburban policing strategy combines community-orientated policing with new technologies and information from members of the community to create an approach especially tailored to Canberra’s needs. Under the innovative program, 22 general duties police teams—supported by traffic operations, specialist response and security officers—are assigned responsibility for developing solutions to crime issues within particular suburbs. Members of the Canberra community can feel reassured that there is a team of officers whose attention is focused on the issues that directly affect them.
Police maintain strong relationships with community organisations such as Neighbourhood Watch and Safety House, as well as ensuring ongoing communication with business owners and schools. I touched on this yesterday when I spoke about the Tuggeranong police sergeant attending Calwell shops. Feedback from these groups has indicated that members of the community are noticing an increase in police