30th September 2019
The latest crime statistic figures are thoroughly depressing, and more of the same is the response from VicPol.
It defies logic that the same strategy is reinforced and promoted that got us to the Crime Tsunami of 2015, and still, there is no visible sign of respite on the horizon for Victoria, the epicentre of crime in Australia.
The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) with over four hundred years of policing experience has begged, demanded and tried to cajole the Victoria Police to change their strategy on crime but they steadfastly hold onto the futile approach of trying to arrest their way out, and it just does not work, as a permanent or long-term policing strategy.
The evidence that we are right, is now in, again.
The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) released the Victorian recorded crime statistics for the year ending 30 June 2019 today.
The highest number of unique alleged offenders was recorded in the year ending June 2019 (84,989 unique alleged offenders) this equates to approximately one unique alleged offenders for every 78 Victorians. The average age for male (34.2 years) and female (33.2 years) unique alleged offenders was the highest average age in CSA data holdings which go back to July 2004.
In the last 12 months the unique victimisation rate per 100,000 population decreased (down 2.9% to 2,832.4 from 2,915.7) to the lowest rate in the CSA data holdings which go back to July 2004. Approximately one in every 33 people in Victoria were victims of crime in the year to June 2019.
In the last 12 months the number of criminal incidents increased by 1.3% or 4,944 incidents to 387,389 while the rate declined by 0.8% to 5,873.5 incidents per 100,000 Victorians. A similar pattern was observed for recorded offences, the number of recorded offences increased by 1.5% to 514,398, while the offence rate decreased 0.6% to 7,799.1 offences per 100,000 Victorians.
Alleged offender incidents increased by 4.6% (7,781 incidents) to 176,837 in the last 12 months while the rate increased by 2.4% to 3,063.5 per 100,000 population.
Victim reports which increased by 0.6% to 301,099, while the victimisation rate dropped 1.5% to 4,565.2 reports per 100,000 Victorians. This is the lowest in CSA data holdings, which go back to July 2004.
Family related incidents increased 8.6% in the last 12 months to 82,652 incidents. The rate of family incidents increased by 6.4% to 1,253.1 incidents per 100,000 population.
CSA Chief Statistician Fiona Dowsley said that “we are seeing record numbers of alleged offenders being processed by Victoria Police and the average age of these alleged offenders has been increasing.”
The much-hackneyed saying of ‘Doing today what you did yesterday and expecting a different result’, has not changed its definition.
More arrests are not the answer, (the crime Stats. prove it) as they have increased exponentially, but the crime rate has also increased, a contradiction of the intended goal. An insatiable appetite for more police is not working, possibly because of the high attrition rate of experience from the organisation, which may in part explain why with all these extra police nothing is improving.
Deputy Commissioner Patton was reported as saying about the latest crime figures.
“We realise we need to do more and we are. It’s a significant issue.
“That’s an area of focus for us moving forward.”
‘An area of focus moving forward’, is police speak for another task force or similar targeted reactionary group drawn from the frontline which translates into more work for the general duties police — more afternoon shifts on weekends and more frequent Nightshifts pushing many past breaking point.
We have some sympathy for the Police Minister who must now surely take the initiative and start bringing real pressure to bear on VicPol to change strategy.
Although crime failed to be a significant influencer in the last election, as this Government ticks off on infrastructure and other initiatives policing could rise to the top if effectively prosecuted. The potential for this issue to be major political one is real, given what is happening with the Lawyer X inquiry and other matters of public interest all coming to a head in the latter part of this political cycle.
In response to the crime data, the Police Minister said,
“A multi-agency approach was necessary when dealing with youth offenders.”
“The problem is that we then have this small group of youth offenders who continue to commit serious and regular crimes,” she said
“There’s a number of things we have put in place.
“This is the first time we’ve got everyone at the table – from police to schools to the justice system.”
Sorry Minister, but if that is what you are told, you have been sold a pup, this is not new or original, no matter how it is packaged, you have been badly misled.
This approach has not worked in the past and is unlikely to work now or in the future. It can be part of a proactive strategy but of itself is a waste of time, proven over many years and many iterations of the same theme.
These types of meetings follow the same pattern. The Police demand everybody else has to do something ’Share the Load’, the attendees all agree that everybody else should do something (except them), and nothing is done.
There will be plenty of rhetoric covering backsides, but like every other reiteration of this theme, we will be exactly where we are now in twelve months when somebody will realise, and the con is exposed, twelve months wasted.
To put faith in this approach would be a very serious mistake and will distract effort from effective solutions.
You might ask how we are an authority on this?
We tried this and found the failings many years ago. We also were excited by the prospects at the time, but ultimately disappointed by the outcome, and we are aware that it was tried again in the early 2000s and failed then as well.
Paradoxically, the one agency that can do something meaningful, Police, do nothing different, but can then blame others for inaction.
Crime is first and foremost a policing problem and cannot be subcontracted out.
This is not the fault of the Police on the front line who work in an ever-increasingly difficult and dangerous environment. With Victoria, having the highest number of criminals by population in the country the inevitable consequence will be continued crime at an unprecedented level but also an unacceptable toll on the front line Police who will succumb to PTSD because of the pressure without letup in sight.
So why this problem has not attracted the highest priority (and action) by Government is bewildering. Even more bewildering is that the solution is not that hard or expensive.
The review of Policing that the CAA has continually called for is now not only inevitable but urgent.
This circuit breaker must happen soon.