2 December 2021

Efficiency or a 'green light for criminals'? Police to phase out attending some property crimes

| Max O'Driscoll
Join the conversation

Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said the change would be a more efficient use of officers’ time. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

ACT residents will soon be required to self-submit a report online when they are victims of certain crimes, including house burglaries, as part of a “phase-out” designed to achieve more efficient use of officers.

Speaking on ABC Radio, ACT Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said that the phase-out, which will occur over the next 12 months, will mean an online reporting system replaces an officer attending the home.

He conceded that ACT Policing will be “less responsive” to some property crimes, especially when there is a lack of forensic evidence available.

CPO Gaughan argued that the move will give officers more front-line exposure for high-end crimes which he proposed was a more efficient use of officer time, proclaiming that “resources are tight” within the organisation.

He pointed to the effectiveness of other similar technology used in the ACT to report historic sexual assaults, and stressed that officers would still attend incidents in which offenders are found in real-time.

READ ALSO New legislation could replace ‘colonisation’ with ‘reconciliation’ as place-naming principle

Shadow Minister for Police Jeremy Hanson was less convinced by what he described as an “extremely concerning change”.

“This is not what the Canberra community expects from their police force. It is not what the police want and it is not what we need to keep Canberra safe. This sends a green light to criminals who will know a certain level of crime may not even receive a visit from police,” Mr Hanson said.

“I call on the Minister to come out from hiding and explain how and why this change was made and how it will impact Canberrans, especially those in disadvantaged groups who are most often victims of small property crimes.

“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,” he said.

READ ALSO: ACT records four new COVID-19 cases, quarantine to continue for international travellers

An ACT Policing spokesperson said that the move to online reporting was one of many “modern ways” being explored to improve the community reporting process for matters such as vandalism, minor property damage and minor burglaries.

“Of course, we will always maintain our triple-zero and police assistance phone lines, but we are considering options such as online reporting,” said the ACT Policing spokesperson.

“Ultimately, online reporting will provide convenience for the community, and will allow police to better respond to incidents where immediate police assistance is required.”

As to what it will mean for victims claiming on insurance for stolen items, managing director of Allinsure Peter Chamberlain said that the changes are unlikely to have a significant impact on the claims process, indicating that incidents such as single-vehicle crashes and theft of tools are often dealt with through an online report.

Mr Chamberlain did, however, suggest that it placed a lot more responsibility on people who are not trained in reporting crimes.

“You go from having a professional there walking you through the process who has attended hundreds of these events and will know what to look for, versus the responsibility being yours to identify what was there and what’s not there now,” he said.

“Having a police officer there with you, after what’s been quite a traumatic experience, would obviously provide a lot more reassurance from both an emotional and mental point of view and would be a far better outcome.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Legalise gun ownership and let us enforce the law ourselves on our property. That will save you money.

HiddenDragon7:15 pm 02 Dec 21

Another dismal symptom of a government, and of a model of self-government, which clearly struggles with all of its major state-level responsibilities – health, education, transport, housing and community safety (and is no better at its municipal responsibilities).

The only thing keeping this sad little circus afloat is the continuing ability of a majority of Canberra households to meet extortionate government charges and related costs thanks to the money being pumped into this town through federally funded salaries, contracting fees and defined benefit pensions. When the fiscal pigeons come home to roost for the federal budget (as they will, in large numbers, after the next election), having to submit an online burglary report will seem like a very minor problem for long-suffering Canberrans.

Capital Retro6:31 pm 02 Dec 21

Some how I don’t think insurers will cop this without conditioning the terms and conditions of their cover for home burglaries. The likely outcome will be an increase in premiums and minimum claims excesses.

Also, the opportunity for fraud will be created as police will just supply a PROMIS number without investigating.

consumeradvocatecanberra2:16 pm 02 Dec 21

This is a direct result of a government gone crazy to save money at every turn to put toward that horrible tram. I hope that the majority of Canberrans speak up about this matter because at the moment they are determined with Nazi like energy to steam roll or ignore any Canberran who dares to offer an opinion when generally the govt has made up its mind. Not good enough Mr Barr. You should all note, that the courts, which follow police charging individuals, is so limp wristed to encourage criminals to keep doing their best at being their worst. I should like to keep a fire arm in the house now that the govt have abdicated their responsibilities to the community. Sack this lot and get some pollies that are empathetic to the voters.

ChrisinTurner1:47 pm 02 Dec 21

Could this be because we have the lowest number of sworn officers per capita in Australia?

Capital Retro12:16 pm 02 Dec 21

I’m placing a sign on my door which will say:

“Every third burglar will be shot. The second one was here yesterday”

ACT Policing negotiating through the media again.

Yeah. High time the contact with the AFP were canned and it gets contracted to NSW or ACT builds its own capability. The AFP seems to have too much influence over local matters.

The drug debate is relevant. If individual drug use were treated as a medical issue, rather than a criminal one, how many police would be freed for other work? The evidence is clear that the current policy endangers peoples lives, leads to incarceration and is expensive.

Hmmm, seems to coincide with a deployment last week to the Solomon Islands to assist quelling the unrest there. This is not the first time. The AFP call it Capacity Building. The deployed officers are paid “tax exempt” because they’re not subjected to income tax as they’re outside of Australia. Plus they get plenty of extra paid conditions, such as meal allowances, laundry, etc. Plenty of hands go up when these offers are made. Last week I jokingly commented “Oh well, open slather for crims in Canberra over Christmas coming up”. Yikes. Now this confirms it. This is not modernisation. This is creative budgeting.

Whilst AFP officers the police who police the ACT are different to the rest of the AFP.

And the contract with the ACT government includes police numbers, so AFP couldn’t just move resources like that.

William Newby8:42 am 02 Dec 21

Appalling; rather than just deliver the number of front line police officers we have needed for over a decade now, we simply choose to just look away from crime.

Under this government we can be sure illegal parking will be dealt with swiftly but we lack the basic resources to investigate a burglary?!

That has been the problem for a long time. Get a parking fine or a speeding ticket and they will chase you to the ends of the earth until you pay up. Including cancelling your rego and/or licence.

Steal a car or burgle a house and you will likely get a good behaviour bond.

Something wrong when theft gets you less punishment than an expired parking meter will.

Ahahahahaha. You couldn’t make it up.
Already, the ACT has the worst police force in Australia (check the 30-day clearance rates in the PC’s ROGS, which shows ACT Policing is less competent than other state police agencies at solving crimes).

But now, it’s dial-a-crime. Press 1 if you’re being stabbed, press 2 if they’ve broken into your child’s bedroom…

Let’s be clear what’s happening here. The ACT has no transparency or review mechanism for policing. Not in ACT estimates, coz it’s a purchase agreement from a federal agency, not in federal estimates, coz it’s a territory matter. Nobody really gets to rip this open and take a proper look. We had 2 years of less crime coz everyone was locked down at home, making it very difficult for burglars. But car thefts are up, and because of immobilisers, these car thefts happen by offenders breaking into your home WHILE YOU’RE IN THERE at 2am to steal your keys, so they can nick your car. That’s a home invasion.

So in the midst of all that, let’s tell these offenders, don’t worry, NOBODY is coming. Take what you like, do what you want. Rattenbury was a disgracefully incompetent correction minister for 8 years. Now as AG he’s appointed a soft-serve judge as chief. And now this.

Ha ha ha. Sigh.

It is Greens policy to reduce the indigenous incarceration rate in Canberra. The way to do this is to catch less indigenous (and non-indigenous) criminals. Fewer criminals caught = fewer convictions = a lower incarceration rate. So ensure fewer criminals are caught by replacing police attendance at home crime scenes with an online reporting system. It will be a Green light for local crooks to know that when they do a ‘burg’ it won’t receive a visit from police.

Finagen_Freeman9:57 pm 01 Dec 21

Absolutely a retrograde step.
Just put all forms of crime on line and defund the police.
Buy a gun and protect your own property.

This regime is relaxing drug laws, raising the age of criminal responsibility, and defunding the police. A few days ago a kid ran out of a sports store with a flash pair of sneakers under his arm. Today a junkie walked into a supermarket, selected a drink and some food, walked out, then sat down just outside to enjoy his stolen lunch in front of everyone. Tomorrow …

Of course if you catch the burglar & clobber them with a cricket bat the wallopers will be around to arrest you in record time.

Capital Retro10:09 pm 01 Dec 21

Only if they know.

A couple of our neighbours have been burgled and the police went and chatted to the other neighbours to see if they might have seen someone in the area or anything suspicious.

How is online reporting going to reduce the crime rate? Are homeowners supposed to take and submit finger prints?

I guess we all need bars, shutters, surveillance cameras and an under fed Doberman!

Not that I support this, but so you are aware police don’t take finger prints or do any type of investigation into run of the mill burglaries.

They only get interested if the value of stolen goods is high or there is a high chance they can catch the offenders.

Otherwise they just log the burglary and if something stolen turns up and they can link burglaries to someone the catch that’s when they take an interest.

And this is nothing new or anything unique to the ACT.

Seriously? If there wasn’t already zero police presence in the Molongolo Valley area, now we have to also report our own crimes online?

Next we’ll have to solve our own cases and make our own arrests?

From what I’ve experienced or heard, the Police are never around or are very late to respond to break-ins, and don’t seem to concerned about catching out other delinquent activity, such as non-compliant vehicles constantly drag racing and hooning up and down John Gorton Drive – definitely breaking legal noise limits and having no consideration for the people they affect EVERY SINGLE DAY!!

I think you’re missing the bigger picture Liza – they want to replace the word “colonisation” with “reconciliation”.

Jwinston. Great comment. Excactly what I thought when I read about replacing the word yesterday.

Far more important things for MLA’s to be using taxpayer dollars on than frivolous **** like that

Capital Retro6:34 pm 01 Dec 21

What happens if the goods stolen are the online communication devices that would normally be used to report the crime?

How you going to call the police then?

But in all seriousness maybe you go to the station and make a report in person.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.