Source: The Mercury, 3 February, 1999, p.1-2
By MATTHEW ROGERS and ELLEN WHINNETT TASMANIA has posted a decade of record crime, with the rate of some offences more than doubling since 1988. Successive governments have boosted police spending to beyond $100 million a year, yet it has failed to keep pace with the state's spiral- ling crime trend. And while police clear-up rates are on the increase they are losing ground to the growing crime menace. Police 10-year crime trends reveal annual crime figures skyrocketed from 55,165 in 1988-89 to 105,846 in 1997-98. The police budget has more than doubled from $49.7 million in 1988-89 to $103.9 million. Tasmania Police acting deputy commissioner Luppo Prins said most crimes were committed by bored and frus- trated youth. He said of the 13 categories Continued Page 2 Alarm at huge increase in state's crime rate FROM PAGE 1 of crime the Australian Bureau of Statistics re- corded, Tasmania was only above the national average on burglary. Police Minister David Llewellyn said the Government was target- ing property crime and was keen to see a re- duction by the end of this year. "Tasmania is still the safest place in Australia to live," Mr Llewellyn said. He said the Govern- ment had increased po- lice numbers to 1100, improved police tech- nology for better re- sponse times, started working closer with councils and started studying where ad- ditional officers could be placed for better use to tackle the crime rate. The 10-year figures re- veal: · An explosion in armed and unarmed robbery from 54 cases in 1988-89 to 180 in 1997-98. · Car theft up from 1246 cases a decade ago to 2860 cases last year. · Offences against prop- erty up from 30,167 to 59,190. · Damage to property up from 3220 to 7209. · Assault up from 1084 to 2055. David Llewellyn: "still the safest state". · Sexual assault up from 145 to 258. · Burglary of buildings up from 7666 to 14,594. · Burglary from ve- hicles up from 2224 to 6166. Police say tools such as diversionary conferenc- ing - where young of- fenders come face to face with their victims - is also proving more effec- tive in tackling repeat criminals than convic- tions in court. Crime commentator Professor Kate Warner, from the University of Tasmania's Law Faculty, said crime rates hinged on more than just police budgets. "People seem to think that more police, more prison and more punish- ment mean less crime but the factors are very much deeper," she said. "You've got to look at unemployment stat- istics. I've always felt that unemployment had an impact on crime." Liberal police spokes- man Rene Hidding said a major shake-up in com- munity attitude to crime was needed. Mr Hidding said the community had gradu- ally grown to expect a certain level of crime and part of the solution was redirecting community attitudes. "The community has reluctantly accepted a level of crime associated with drug habits and sliding community stan- dards," he said. "Nobody is really horrified any more if the person over the road's house was burgled last week." Police improved their rate of solving crime last financial year, taking their clearance rate for property crimes up 3.6% to a total of 13.8%. The clearance rate for offences against the per- son rose 2.8% to 61.9%. However, in the same period property crime in- creased by 8.8%, while offences against the per- son rose 9.9%. The Rising Crime in Australia report, by aca- demic Lucy Sullivan shows that Australia, in- cluding Tasmania, ex- perienced an unpre- cedented rise in crime starting in the 1970s which has not slowed. The report found no statistical link between unemployment and crime since crime was first recorded in Aust- ralia in the 1800s.
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