15th January 2019

To paraphrase the old truism – “There are lies, damn lies, and … crime statistics.” Vicpol would have us believe crime is decreasing, and yet our observations and media reports suggest the contrary. Vicpol says the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) is responsible for keeping the books, not them, so if there is a problem it must be their fault.
Well, just to indicate how figures can lie, a few years ago Vicpol decided to juggle the books even before the CSA got involved in counting – by refusing to accept certain reports of crime, and a highly popular class of crime at that. Credit card fraud is almost as common as buying milk – and yet Vicpol will not listen any report of this crime unless the victim first goes to their bank; and even then only if the bank refuses liability. If the victim is reimbursed by the bank the crime magically disappears. It does not matter how much involvement there is by organised crime (and they just love this field!) Vicpol sees nothing, hears nothing and does nothing.
It certainly does not tell CSA about it. There is nothing to report, is there?
Another sneaky little “counting practice” used to mislead the gullible public is to lump together multiple crimes committed in a spree – sexual crimes, deceptions, thefts, burglaries etc. – by the same criminal or gang of criminals – AS ONE CRIME.
All of this is officially approved.
Time and again we hear from disappointed, or mystified, citizens, that when they become victims of a crime the police put obstacles in their way to lodging an official record of that crime. They are too busy, or “You will have to come down to the station (if it is attended)”, or “There is not much we can do, is there?”
This sort of attitude is less likely to be approved on high, and we do not suggest it arises in the most outrageous or public offences, but the complaints occur too frequently to be entirely without cause. Local culture often means that means are found to avoid doing what the bosses at headquarters want, or to actually do what they want but cannot tell you out loud! (Wink, wink, nod, nod.)
Either officially or unofficially, then, the number of victims of crime reported is very significantly less than the true figure. And there is no way to tell just how much less.
Another sneaky “counting practice” is to track a crime victim and only count him/her once even if he/she is victimised multiple times, in separate incidents, throughout a year.
Perhaps enough has been said to justify our doubt about claims that crime is decreasing. And after all, if that were true we did not need to recruit more police so vigorously, did we?
Vicpol does not have a happy record of handling crime statistics even-handedly and honestly, and CSA seems to merely lend a surreptitious glaze of “professionalism” to official sleight-of-hand.
Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. has called for more open and identifiable integrity as a necessary ingredient throughout government as a whole, and does so again with particular respect to the recording of crimes and victims of crimes, in Victoria.
Perhaps we should disseminate figures that satisfy what the public want to know not what the elites determine we should know. That would be a novel idea.
Let us be quite certain that these important aspects of our society get the recognition and attention they actually deserve – and that they are no longer cast aside as unimportant (unless perhaps they inadvertently create a ministerial photo opportunity.)