9th January 2017

The Crime Statistics Agency Victoria reports that in the year ending September 2016, there were 543,315 offences recorded by Victoria Police, an increase of 11.6% from 487,017 offences in the previous year. This resulted in an offence rate of 8,975.4 offences per 100,000 people in Victoria, an increase of 9.4% from the year ending September 2015.

Over the past five years, the offence rate per 100,000 people in Victoria has been steadily increasing, with an average annual increase of 5.4%.

Why is it so when crime rates in every other State of Australia have been falling steadily?

The answer is obvious.  Policing in Victoria has departed from the primary function of crime prevention and is trying to enforce its way out of the problem.  Enforcement alone will never be sufficient to turn crime figures around.

Too much of Victoria’s crime is driven by young people who clearly have not had the moral and ethical upbringing that creates good citizens.

If this education is not being received at home the first practical place young people can be exposed to moral and ethical guidance is at school.

The Victorian Police in Schools Program that ran from 1989 to 2006 was found by a study conducted by Monash University, released in 2004, to be successful in providing the education in relation to these issues that is so very much needed now.

Further evidence that having police in schools works in preventing crime may be found in the falling crime rates in the rest of Australia where a Police in Schools Program operates in one form or another.

It is past the time when the Victorian Government and the Victoria Police should realise that the fight against crime is being lost by them largely ignoring proactive policing.  Crime prevention is a basic tenet of any society.

Recent claims by the Victoria Police that they are ‘getting on top of the problem’ do not stand up to scrutiny.

Stark evidence of this is the continued tactic of offenders in deliberately crashing into police vehicles, the high number of home invasions, and the formation of community groups in some places that are formed to protect themselves, their families, their homes and their property.

It is also long past time that the Victoria Police with Government support assumed a leadership role in crime prevention.

There are several initiatives that can turn Victoria’s crime problems around.

In the longer term only the reintroduction of a Police in Schools Program can deliver the moral and ethical training that will save many of the future generation from turning to crime and anti-social behaviour.  This should be an immediate first step that will make, as proven in the past, a significant difference to the safety and well-being of our society.

In the meantime young criminals must be made responsible and accountable for their actions.  Young offender being repeatedly bailed after reoffending while on bail make a mockery of our criminal justice system.  Clearly they have no fear of the consequences of their actions and hold the criminal justice system in contempt.

Exacerbating this issue is that these offenders are not dealt with quickly enough after being apprehended and charged.  The old adage of justice delayed is justice denied is true.  The denial of justice in these cases is as much a denial of justice to the many victims as it is to the offenders.  Young people on remand have to wait far too long to be dealt with.  The trashing of the Parkville facility is testimony enough of the need for offenders to be dealt with speedily.

There is overwhelming evidence that repeat offenders are not receiving sufficient punishment to make then think twice about reoffending.  Unrealistically lenient penalties are often a badge of success among young offender’s peers rather than a real deterrent. The argument that they will be worse if incarcerated is arrant nonsense and raisers the question, worse than what?

While it is desirable to attempt to rehabilitate young offenders and give them a second chance or in special cases even a third chance, there must be a point where the protection of the public must outweigh the needs of an offender and the need to protect the offender from him or her self is paramount.

The creation of a body to oversee the performance of Magistrates and Judges so that they too are accountable for their actions would go a long way to re-establishing public faith in the criminal justice system.

Maximum penalties set by parliament through legislation are available for those convicted by courts.  Magistrates and Judges obviously ignore the legislation and fail to impose realistic penalties in the vast majority of cases.  The reasonable expectations of the ordinary citizen in relation to penalties fitting the crime are not being met.

Victorians, are not being adequately served by our Police Force or Government.  The recent announcement of a substantial increase in police numbers, while very much welcomed and needed, will not of itself solve our current crime problems.  What is required is not a radical new approach.  What is needed is a return to the principles enunciated 1829 by Sir Robert Peel that remain as relevant today as when they were first promulgated.  Crime prevention must come first.

It is said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expecting a different result.


Kelvin Glare  AO APM

Chairman Community Advocacy Alliance

Former Chief Commissioner Victoria Police