Source: The Mercury, 3 February, 1999, p.1-2


Tassie crime shock




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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