Cops and bloggers: online reporting proposal no substitute for more police

Ian Bushnell 3 December 2021 29
ACT police

Police resources are tight, says CPO Neil Gaughan. Photo: File.

ACT Policing’s plans to not attend certain property crime incidents such as break-ins, but expect victims to post a report online for police to follow up, should be met with the incredulity it deserves.

It is well-known that Canberra’s contracted police service is hard-pressed to keep pace with a growing capital. Just talk to the residents of the new suburbs of Molonglo or Gungahlin, who complain in vain about break-ins and hooning and lack of police visibility.

Just because such antisocial behaviour doesn’t make it into the crime statistics doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

The thin blue line is just that, with the police union saying Canberra is short about 200 officers.

Either the new approach is the brainchild of some well-meaning bureaucrat, or perhaps Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan is being crafty and tossing out a broad hint that he needs to bolster the ranks.

Information is short about the criteria for the police turning up or not, but it seems the online reporting option will be limited to offences such as vandalism, minor property damage and minor burglaries.

READ ALSO: Efficiency or a ‘green light for criminals’? Police to phase out attending some property crimes

For someone who has found the door kicked in, their privacy violated and property pinched, how minor is minor?

The CPO also mentioned occurrences when there is a lack of forensic evidence, but how will police know that without being there?

Turning civilians into community crime bloggers also puts an undeserved burden on people who may be traumatised or lack the skills to deliver a useful or complete report.

The CPO assures us that the new approach will free up resources to focus on more serious crime and life-threatening matters and give officers more front-line exposure.

He admits that resources are tight and this would be a more efficient use of officers’ time.

But what kind of message does this send to the community, and criminals, no matter how minor?

The compact between police and the community is vital to maintaining law and order in a civil society. This sort of triaging will only undermine that trust and leave many wondering whether reporting a crime is worth the hassle.

That may be good for crime stats, but that only creates an illusion of calm in our suburbs.

Missing in action has been Police Minister Mick Gentleman, who did not respond to our questions.

READ ALSO: Late lawn mowing, poor parking: frivolous triple-zero calls spark ACT police warning

Opposition police spokesperson Jeremy Hanson called on Mr Gentleman to come out of hiding and explain how and why this change was made.

“Frankly, this a direct result of the fact that there are not enough police in the ACT, as has been stated repeatedly by me and by police themselves, and I call on the government to focus on community policing and give police the resources they and the community need,” Mr Hanson said.

Canberra may not be the crime capital, but it has its fair share of violence, poor behaviour and unnerving violations of people’s sanctity at home.

The move to online reporting was described as one of many “modern ways” to improve community reporting of minor crimes.

But many would prefer some old-fashioned police on the beat they could tell their stories to rather than a police website.

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29 Responses to Cops and bloggers: online reporting proposal no substitute for more police
Heavs Heavs 3:31 pm 03 Dec 21

What is actually being lost here? They would generally only turn up hours or days after the fact anyway and seldom solved anything or got your stuff back. Everyone can still claim on insurance, just like you could last week. It’s blatantly obvious that this is a tantrum from the cops because they didn’t get additional funding -make the statement that will cause the most outrage without actually impacting anyone.

Chris Cummins Chris Cummins 12:31 pm 03 Dec 21

Anyone unhappy here should take time and write to the chief minister. This is not a decision of any frontline responder but by AFP management based on funding versus priorities. If anyone thinks ACT Policing is adequately funded then research or ask someone they know in policing. I can confidently say they are definitely not and they go from job to job, often without adequate breaks and wearing gear about 15kgs in total for 12 hours a day. Complain to your government which is spending money on painting multi colours on roadways or millions on Haig Park stick cubby houses.

Angus Fergusson Angus Fergusson 12:16 pm 03 Dec 21

Try to make a cops work a little easier to manage and everyone jumps up and down! They are not saying they are not going to any burglaries! Just offering an alternate reporting method where there is no evidence to be collected and avoids wasting the time of two Constables to come out to you and take notes that you could have provided online. Free’s them up to go an chase the criminal who is driving your stolen car down the parkway at 160km/hr and putting dozens of lives at risk. But if you really really want a cop to come out to your house then Im sure they will organise a crew. Its just an alternate reporting method available for them.

Rob Calvert Rob Calvert 10:47 am 03 Dec 21

We are very poorly served by the ACT Police, they seem to think investigating minor crimes is not their duty. Yet if there is a "major" incident they are everywhere, asserting their authority in an "over the top" totalitarian manner.

    Chris Cummins Chris Cummins 12:36 pm 03 Dec 21

    Rob Calvert rubbish. Head in sand comment. One example - look at the road toll from the 80’s to now. Upwards of 40 down to single figures due largely in part to the efforts of police. Times that by 30+ years and it equates to hundreds of Canberrans being alive today due to the reduction in the road toll - and this is despite the significant increase in population and road users.

    EH Cee EH Cee 12:51 pm 03 Dec 21

    Rob Calvert So what you’re saying is minor crimes don’t warrant as much of a response as a major incident.

    Rob Calvert Rob Calvert 9:38 am 04 Dec 21

    Chris Cummins What's that got to do with the failure of the the police to respond to burglary, minor assaults, their failure to police road rules.

    Chris Cummins Chris Cummins 10:23 am 04 Dec 21

    Rob Calvert priorities vs funding. Complain to government. You complain of poor service - I gave you Ann important example of hey they serve and protect us.

Robert Harrop Robert Harrop 10:39 am 03 Dec 21

If there is no money in it for the police eg fines they are not interested in protecting the community.

Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 10:28 am 03 Dec 21

Police don’t prevent burglaries, and they rarely solve them.

Police will still provide reports for insurance claims.

All that’s changed is police will no longer poke around your home before explaining there’s little they can do.

Josh Reynolds Josh Reynolds 10:12 am 03 Dec 21

Jeez imagine if they actually defund the police we will have to solve our own murder

William Newby William Newby 10:00 am 03 Dec 21

What the public aren’t told is just how many AFP officers are actually allocated to policing the ACT, this number is falsely inflated in most reports when the Commissioner double counts his sworn officers serving out of the ACT, and those officers assigned to national/federal roles while sitting behind a desk here in Canberra.

In any event (even with the false reporting) we have the lowest ratio of police officers per capita in all of Australia.

An additional 200 officers would only stem the bleeding; you can only juggle and bluff the public for so long, it gets bloody tiring! most frontline officers don’t last 7 years anymore. Those that do often switch to become the root cause of the very problem, promoted into roles that demand data manipulation to achieve a ‘result’.

Vehicle thefts and property break-ins often leave a pattern, and frequently leave evidence (their are no ‘cat-burglars’ here in the ACT!).

To be directing the public to just log your details on our web site and then call your insurance company is the laziest policing idea that we will ever see! ~ Name me one other State that would tolerate such rubbish?

Our top politicians (include the AFP top brass) should all hang their heads in shame, knowingly selling us a plan that will fail.

Soft judges appointed, police that will no longer turn up, increased ages for criminality, decreased sentences (proposed), there has never been a better time to become a professional criminal in Australia’s capital!

Tēē Rőy Tēē Rőy 9:11 am 03 Dec 21

No different from other jurisdictions

    Ron Robertson Ron Robertson 9:37 am 03 Dec 21

    Tēē Rőy that's not a reason that's an excuse.

    Angus Fergusson Angus Fergusson 12:10 pm 03 Dec 21

    Tony Jim only where there is evidence to be assessed for forensic value, otherwise, no. They don’t!

    Tēē Rőy Tēē Rőy 12:17 pm 03 Dec 21

    Tony Jim the point is other jurisdictions have online reporting portals.

    Tēē Rőy Tēē Rőy 12:17 pm 03 Dec 21

    Ron Robertson there are many reasons

    Angus Fergusson Angus Fergusson 6:09 pm 03 Dec 21

    Tony Jim my point is, online reporting is an option. They don’t go to every burglary that occurs!

    Tēē Rőy Tēē Rőy 9:20 pm 03 Dec 21

    And I’m just saying other jurisdictions have an online portal to report crimes online

Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 9:08 am 03 Dec 21

Totally agree , speaking to a person much better. It is very important to know that police take seriously our report of explosions and gunfire. If the police get people to report crime online , they lose their unpaid assistants as when each crime is reported, good questioning , illicit more info to have crime solved. Some communities just don’t report crime believing police don’t care , do nothing, the trust of the community in believing police do care is critical for getting more info. This trust takes years to build. One year of cutting off the rapport with the public could lead to ten years of no cooperation. More police have to be appointed or at least real people on the end of a phone call.

    Ryan Hicks Ryan Hicks 3:42 am 04 Dec 21

    Paula Simcocks seen a cracker go off in Gungahlin last night near the lake didn't see one police officer respond to it 🤷

    Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 6:56 am 04 Dec 21

    Ryan Hicks I saw a police car come to investigate explosions

    Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 6:58 am 04 Dec 21

    Ryan Hicks did you ring police to report?

Richard Flanigan Richard Flanigan 8:47 am 03 Dec 21

What’s everyone complaining about ? We’ve got a Skywhale and getting more trams.

    Jason Oneill Jason Oneill 8:52 am 03 Dec 21

    Richard Flanigan Life's peachy really....

    Renee Watkins Renee Watkins 7:19 pm 03 Dec 21

    Richard Flanigan don't forget the $14m the Australian Art Gallery is commissioning Lindy Lee to create a sculpture. Like WTAF!

nobody nobody 8:46 am 03 Dec 21

Well said Ian, and please keep asking that so-called Police Minister to explain himself.

Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 8:32 am 03 Dec 21

Call me old fashioned but if my home was robbed I would expect to be able to call the police and have them attend .

Alison Pallister Alison Pallister 8:09 am 03 Dec 21

Property theft is rife and its not acceptable to not investigate it. So many people have footage of perpetrators, yet nothing is done to deal with these criminals. Losing property is costly, but the actual invasion of your home makes you feel unsafe. Watch insurance premiums go up now that its very clear thiefs have free reign. The ACT govt needs to get serious and put more money into Policing. We pay sky high rates, we deserve better!

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