Canberra has the lowest police-to-resident numbers per capita in the nation as the number of sworn officers within ACT Policing continue to plummet and the calls grow louder for the ACT Government to increase its funding.
According to the Productivity Commission’s latest report on government services, ACT Policing has 35 fewer sworn officers in Canberra than there was five years ago, with 706 sworn officers in 2012-13 dropping to 689 in 2015-16 and to 671 sworn officers in 2017-18.
ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said the government was investing in ACT Policing even though there were fewer officers on the ground.
“We have been investing into different components of ACT Policing, not just numbers on the ground but more importantly with people who can assist ACT Policing in reducing crime,” Mr Gentleman said.
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“Our forensic accountants, for example, who have been a big investment over the recent years, to ensure they can deal with the criminal aspects of outlaw motorcycle gang activity. It is working because we have seen a trend in reduction of crime so I am very pleased with the work of ACT Policing.
“There will always be a call for more policing and I will be going to the budget cabinet with those requests. There will be more resources needed and I will be talking to CPO Ray Johnson about what he needs in the future.”
The Canberra community continues to grow while ACT Policing numbers continue to be cut, which is a grave concern for Liberal Member for Murrumbidgee Gulia Jones.
Ms Jones said Labor’s cuts to Canberra’s police force is hurting the community and reiterated the need for a strong police force to help keep the ACT safe.
“ACT Labor’s gradual starvation of our police force and cuts to frontline officers has made our community vulnerable and a haven for criminal elements,” Ms Jones said. “I want to pay honour to the men and women who work long hours to keep our city safe despite the lack of support they receive from the current government.”
Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) president Angela Smith said it was clear there had been a lack of government investment in ACT Policing.
“While numbers are declining, the ACT population is increasing,” Angela Smith said. “ACT Policing is getting smaller and smaller which is frightening.
“It upsets me when governments use the excuse that crime rates are reducing so they are not investing in police. Police are doing everything they can to stay on top of crime but they have fewer numbers. How can you keep the community safe with fewer numbers?
“It is something the ACT Government needs to wake up to and to have a think about.”