On a couple of occasions now, I’ve heard ACT Policing use a comparison with television crime shows to, at least in part, defend themselves against criticism over the time they’re taking to solve some local crimes.
“Just because the good guys at CSI and Law and Order can solve their cases in an hour, minus advertisements, don’t pressure us to do a rushed job and botch it,” appears to be the message.
But many of the problems being faced by the AFP today are of their own making.
About ten or fifteen years ago, the AFP did away with so-called specialist policing. No longer would the ACT have a team of officers who could dedicate their lives, if that was their wish, to working in a specialist area such as homicide, car theft, fraud etc etc.
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Instead it was decided that officers could be assigned to a specialist area for a maximum of only five years.
It was a move aimed at preventing corruption. But the cost, all these years later appears to be mounting, in terms of unsolved crimes, and an apparent inability to assemble enough evidence to win a conviction.
I’m referring here, in particular, to the major crimes like murder, rather than the petty, but nuisance value crimes of ram raids and small time hold-ups where the (often) drug affected culprits leave behind a trail of clues.
The old system may have had some disadvantages, but few would argue that a unit headed by a detective or officer with years of experience in the field had both the contacts and the knowledge that today’s officers, with a maximum of 60 months experience, can’t hope to match.