THURSDAY 11 May 2017
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:12 :40 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Police on the topic of statistics of crime.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Yesterday, in this council, the police minister regaled us with some wonderful news that there has been a 30.5 percent reduction in crime in our state. I wondered at the time what the definition of crime was, but was unable to ask a supplementary at that time, given that the clock had run down. I note in the South Australia Police Annual Report 2015-16 that the minister was, I think, referring to total offences against person and properties as crime. I also note that the minister talked about the rise in levels of domestic violence. My questions to the minister are:
1.Does the minister accept that in the last three calendar years total offences against person and property have risen each calendar year since the 2013-14 year?
2.Does the minister also define domestic violence within his definition used yesterday of this 30.5 per cent drop in crime?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:14 :11 ): I thank the honourable member for her question. Yes, I can confirm that the Hon. Tammy Franks is right in her interpretation that over the 10-year period from 2006-07 to 2015-16 there was a reduction in recorded crime, resulting in a decrease of 30.5 per cent, which equates, according to my records, to 47,075 offences—an extraordinary number—for total offences against person and property. That's my advice.
Yes, I think it has been well documented in a number of different forums that incidents of domestic violence within our community has been on the rise. It is fair to say that there is a general consensus amongst those people working within the field that this is not the product of more acts of domestic violence necessarily being committed as much as a willingness of people within the community to actually report an act of domestic violence, which, tragically, years ago would have otherwise gone unreported or unnoticed.
Nevertheless, there has been a substantial increase in the level of domestic violence, which is of grave concern to the community. In terms of whether or not those statistics are incorporated within the number, my advice or understanding is that that is the case. The Hon. Ms Franks is also right to refer to the fact that on some key measures in the last couple of years numbers have gone up, but generally speaking over a sustained period of time you will always see movements in various statistics.
What we want to look at are records of trend, and we think that the last decade demonstrates a clear trend: there has been a substantial reduction in crime, and we don't think that is an accident. We believe that, while movements in crime statistics can be attributed to a number of different variables, when you look at a trend as substantial as this one over such a sustained period it is the firm view of this government that it can be attributed to a large number of policies.
Yes, of course reductions in crime principally can be put at the feet of the incredibly hardworking men and women in uniform serving our state, but there have been a number of policies that this government has implemented that help the men and women in uniform, or SAPOL officers, to be able to get out there and do the work.
Chief among them is the very substantial increase in the number of sworn police officers that this government has provided for during its time in office, and that commitment continues. We are seeing an increase in excess of 300 new sworn police officers come into the force by mid next year. That is already on top of the fact that we have the largest number of sworn police officers per capita of any mainland state in the country.
It is a phenomenal statistic, a record of which we are incredibly proud, but we are not just giving SAPOL more sworn officers, we are also giving them new technologies, things like facial recognition technology, mobile rugged tablets and, more recently, body-worn video. There are a range of different technologies that we want to provide to our increasing number of police officers to get out and do the work, and undoubtedly that has contributed to the large reduction in some statistics on crime to which the Hon. Ms Franks refers.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:17 :53 ): Supplementary: why does the minister include domestic violence in these statistics when offences against good order, as reported on page 14 of the SAPOL annual report, are not included in the category of offences against person and property, and indeed are noted specifically in the report as rising quite substantially?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:18 :15 ): I am happy to seek some technical advice regarding how different statistics are classified within the specific page of the annual report. I am happy to seek advice on that. In terms of offences against the good order, a number of different offences can fall under that category. Offences that relate to technical breaches can fall under that category, as distinct from what might necessarily be a violent act. I am more than happy to seek advice regarding that particular page of the annual report to which Ms Franks refers.