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

Max O'Driscoll 2 December 2021 75

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.


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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.


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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.”


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75 Responses to Efficiency or a ‘green light for criminals’? Police to phase out attending some property crimes
Mamy Watts Mamy Watts 1:04 am 03 Dec 21

Same outcome, they do nothing anyway.

Look out insurance will go up with people making fake claims.

Sam Oak Sam Oak 11:34 pm 02 Dec 21

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

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:15 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 Retro Capital Retro 6:31 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.

Stan Nimmo Stan Nimmo 3:30 pm 02 Dec 21

Police in name only, I’m sorry to say this but it’s my experience that ACT police are not resourced to investigate burglaries unless it’s an open and shut case …so no point raising our expectations…just report it online and make your insurance claim. We got an insurance voucher to replace my great grand mother’s hundred year old gold wedding ring….learnt the lessons and moved on..and don’t be like us and forget to revalue the replacement items every year or so. I was reliably informed that the drug addicted thieves most probably moved our stolen jewellery to Sydney to be repurposed and resold. statistically burglary is not a major issue ..that is unless you become a victim of it. So no need to get the gun….someone is going to get hurt…more likely you or your family/friends….just get good insurance, invest in a good security systems and tell your trusted neighbours when you are away. Maybe it’s time to resurrect the neighbourhood watch program…with a little ‘leadership’ from ACT police..that’s if they can spare the resource.

Jenny Graves Jenny Graves 2:41 pm 02 Dec 21

We need to press for more in the budget for the police.

consumeradvocatecanberra consumeradvocatecanberra 2:16 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.

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 1:47 pm 02 Dec 21

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

Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:16 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”

Ben McQualter Ben McQualter 11:53 am 02 Dec 21

Police aren't interested in anything except handing out fines

John W Crawford John W Crawford 11:27 am 02 Dec 21

Does that reinforce the old saw " dead men tell no tales"???

Linda Stapleton Linda Stapleton 10:59 am 02 Dec 21

This could lead to some rather nasty side issues.. what if someone were to catch an idiot breaking into their home..do they bother calling the police or handle it themselves? If they handle it themselves are they then covered legally because the police said publicly they would not come out to some types of crimes and the home owner or resident has mistaken this to mean this particular type of situation? This could end up in a nasy way for some poor soul...

    Jenny Graves Jenny Graves 2:37 pm 02 Dec 21

    They've specifically said that they will come out if the homeowner finds someone on the premises in the act of burgling.

    Stan Nimmo Stan Nimmo 3:36 pm 02 Dec 21

    Jenny Graves hopefully they make good their promise otherwise it could get nasty…I’d like to see some response metrics to back up the words.

Shari Tiger Shari Tiger 10:42 am 02 Dec 21

I’m pretty sure the speeding fines at the infamous Northbourne Ave and London Circuit intersection have brought in enough $$$ to fund employing more officers 👮🏻‍♂️

Heavs Heavs 9:57 am 02 Dec 21

ACT Policing negotiating through the media again.

    JC JC 12:29 pm 02 Dec 21

    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.

John Giacon John Giacon 9:38 am 02 Dec 21

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.

Mark Miller Mark Miller 9:05 am 02 Dec 21

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.

    JC JC 12:24 pm 02 Dec 21

    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 Newby William Newby 8:42 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?!

    purplevh purplevh 2:25 pm 02 Dec 21

    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.

Shane Phoenix Shane Phoenix 7:40 am 02 Dec 21

especially when there is a lack of forensic evidence available.... And how could this possibly be determined until investigated.

Members of the public are not trained to detect forensic evidence. Fingerprints aren't detectable without the equipment

Annette Hotchin Annette Hotchin 7:04 am 02 Dec 21

Well what are they actually going to do , they don't attend cat accidents unless there is injury, they no longer booked people for speeding unless they are on the road & now they won't be attending when you get broken into..........so what will they be doing 🤔

    Sam Smith Sam Smith 7:41 am 02 Dec 21

    Annette Hotchin in their defence, isn't it a bit hard to book someone for speeding unless they are on a road, and are cats normally a priority for police?

    Tēē Rőy Tēē Rőy 10:09 pm 03 Dec 21

    Annette Hotchin police work

Sue Ellen Sue Ellen 7:01 am 02 Dec 21

Unbelivable! I was going to say we are going backwards but then I remembered all the convicts that were sent here for stealing.

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