Libs urge ACT Government to put more police on the beat

Dominic Giannini 23 April 2021 38
Police officer

Policing numbers per capita should reach parity with NSW by 2024, the Canberra Liberals said. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The Canberra Liberals have called on the ACT Government to increase police numbers from the lowest per capita rate in Australia to match NSW by 2024.

The ACT had 879 operational police staff in the last financial year, which is around one officer for every 485 Canberrans, according to the most recent Report on Government Services. The second-lowest is NSW, with one operational police staff member for every 416 residents, the data showed.

President of the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) Alex Caruana said members were burnt out and did not have the opportunity to take time off and spend more time with their family as normal public servants do.

An extra 100 to 120 sworn police officers were needed in the ACT, he said.

“They have such a strong comradery that they do not want to take leave and leave their mates thinner on the road,” Mr Caruana told ABC Radio.

“What would help is having more troops on the ground, more people out there to be able to proactively patrol and get the message out there.

“If we are only spending time doing the enforcement then there is no time spent on education and deterrence. We are not educating the public not to do the wrong thing.”

Jeremy Hanson

Shadow Police Minister Jeremy Hanson said a new police station was needed to service the Molonglo region. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Shadow Minister for Police Jeremy Hanson said hard-working front line police officers pleading for more resources through their union are being ignored.

“We are an island within NSW and I do not see why we should have fewer police officers per capita than places like Yass or Queanbeyan,” he said.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman criticised Mr Hanson for misinterpreting policing staffing numbers but did not specifically respond to questions in the Legislative Assembly about whether he thought the comments from the AFPA were wrong.

“Canberra is a safe city with low crime rates, which is the best measure that we are adequately resourcing our police force,” he said.

Mr Gentleman said he was not aware of excessive overtime and that the government provided funding for an additional 60 members for ACT Policing.


READ MORE: Police defend resourcing in wake of skate park attack


Mr Hanson also renewed his call for a police station in Molonglo by the end of 2022 to service the area’s growing population.

“Police are stretched to the limit and, as a result, are taking longer to respond to reports of criminal activity. A lack of police presence in Molonglo Valley and surrounding suburbs has resulted in reports of escalated criminal activity,” said Mr Hanson.

“Clearly, there is a need for a permanent police station in the region to service not only the Molonglo community but Weston Creek as well.

“It is not good enough for these suburbs to rely on the Woden Police Station, which is already understaffed and having to cover Woden Valley, Weston Creek and Molonglo.”

Mick Gentleman

Police Minister Mick Gentleman has defended the government spending on police in the ACT. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Mr Gentleman said there does not seem to be a relationship between station presence and crime prevalence.

“[The ACT] is in a confined area, and police can respond incredibly quickly.”

Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan agreed, having previously told Committee Hearings that the compact nature of the Territory meant that he could reallocate policing resources quite quickly.

“We will adapt as things emerge, and that is what the community expects. It is a juggling act. I am not going to sit here and say that I am flushed with resources and I have the ability to be everywhere at every time,” he told the Committee in February.

Reports of crime in the Molonglo district have been going up since 2014, but Mr Gaughan said it was important to note that reports of crime will increase as the population does in any given area.

“The other thing that links to increasing crime in any area is that issue of population growth. The fact is that as Molonglo continues to grow in population, we are going to see an increase in reportable crime,” he said.


What's Your Opinion?


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38 Responses to Libs urge ACT Government to put more police on the beat
Natalie Brown Natalie Brown 1:20 pm 30 Apr 21

We need our own police force not add numbers to the existing contract

Nina Moretti Nina Moretti 4:03 pm 28 Apr 21

Extra 200

bd84 bd84 8:50 pm 27 Apr 21

Mick Gentleman’s response is his standard sticking his fingers in his ears and going “LALALALA I can’t hear you” combined with a poor attempt at a Jedi mind trick, waving his hand and saying “there isn’t a problem here, we will just move on”. One day Canberrans might actually keep these idiots in government accountable.

Margaret Makeham-Kirchner Margaret Makeham-Kirchner 7:06 am 27 Apr 21

I’d certainly be keen on them taking a harder line on some of the dodgies in the inner north. The rate of bicycles being stolen is getting ridiculous here- kids don’t feel safe leaving their bikes locked up anymore. Maybe small crimes but it’s heightening perceptions of crime significantly.

Patrick Režek Patrick Režek 6:25 am 27 Apr 21

Here is idea: convert all those people who sit speed van cameras into police.

Also police doesn’t solve crime we see. They are mostly there after the fact.

Crime is addressed by making social reforms.

Alex SmilyLex Alex SmilyLex 12:32 am 27 Apr 21

We need pollice ratios suitable for the work needed not an arms race with neighbours may be more than NSW or maybe less than NSW

Barry Finch Barry Finch 9:02 pm 26 Apr 21

Having recently moved to Coombs, I certainly support the call for a police station in Molonglo by the end of 2022 to service the area’s growing population. I see no reason why, subject to an assessment of staffing requirements, it could not move straight into the Coombs Shopping Centre which is currently 95% vacant.

Brad Mann Brad Mann 6:10 pm 26 Apr 21

It’s just not the police what a short nearly every single emergency service agency you short as Well

    SC Cores SC Cores 9:17 am 27 Apr 21

    Brad Mann and perhaps teachers .... there seems to be a lack of education around here somewhere......

    SC Cores SC Cores 12:34 pm 27 Apr 21

    Head Bone oh Lorde and he replied... 😂😂😂

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 5:57 pm 26 Apr 21

But we are getting a tram to Woden costing $billions. It will take twice as long as the bus with half the seats. This is where our rates are going.

Mark Bowell Mark Bowell 4:52 pm 26 Apr 21

One thing I do agree on

Mac John Mac John 4:32 pm 26 Apr 21

Really: what about paying a reasonable job seeker payment so that people do not need to live in poverty. Typical of these liberals wanting to make the poor poorer and the rich richer. No wonder crime may be on the increase.

    Fenji Stradwick Fenji Stradwick 4:56 pm 26 Apr 21

    Mac John but who's going to answer the phone when most comments you post are "have you called the police?" 😊

    JJ Rover JJ Rover 8:01 pm 30 Apr 21

    Mac John you do know the ACT is not governed by the Feds anymore?

Rita Bodo Rita Bodo 4:20 pm 26 Apr 21

And then maybe they'll be able to enforce the law!

Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison 3:53 pm 26 Apr 21

I dunno, those guys make me nervous. I'll be relaxing in the city and then a bunch of uniforms stroll past, mob handed and bristling with weapons. Not very pleasant. Aren't there other less obvious ways to keep us all in line? I dunno, maybe not, but we don't need any more surely.

    Fenji Stradwick Fenji Stradwick 5:00 pm 26 Apr 21

    Daniel Harrison capsicum spray, tazer and a glock, is hardly bristling with weapons. It allows them to choose the most appropriate response to a risk and two options are a non lethal response.

    If you're not doing the wrong thing you can avoid being nervous, they're not there to keep us all in line, people mostly choose to be ratbags that attract police attention.

    Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison 5:06 pm 26 Apr 21

    I guess it depends on your definition of bristling, because that sounds like a lot to me. Uniforms and guns make me nervous - I don't think that's an irrational response, although I know some people love that stuff.

    Fenji Stradwick Fenji Stradwick 5:13 pm 26 Apr 21

    Daniel Harrison i work in ambulance so I see and interact with the "clients" that are dealt with on occasion and unfortunately we also sometimes need police to protect us, so they are needed, even if it's just the thought that counts for some people to behave. It's not about loving the stuff it's about the side of society that many don't see and comprehend that there's a cohort of us that do deal with in behalf of the community. And unfortunately safety is a big issue.

    Daniel Harrison Daniel Harrison 5:18 pm 26 Apr 21

    Fair enough, but do we need more armed officers? Maybe the money would be better spent on your side of the equation - public health, housing, mental health services etc. I want less guns in my city not more.

Phil Ebbott Phil Ebbott 3:52 pm 26 Apr 21

They aren't wrong.

Mal Briggs Mal Briggs 3:45 pm 26 Apr 21

More cops doesn't necessarily mean more heavy handed policing.

More cops can easily mean more proactive policing. More community outreach, more time to spend with people, being more visible. Ideally leading to less crime.

Timothy Dutch O'Callaghan Timothy Dutch O'Callaghan 3:24 pm 26 Apr 21

Canberra needw way more police than it already has, they are severely understaffed at the moment in my opinion.

Dan Smith Dan Smith 3:19 pm 26 Apr 21

That and have them actually patrolling and engaging with the community when they are not investigating something.

If the only time you see or hear from police is during an incident you can then subconsciously negatively think about their presence.

We need a completely rethink on policing in Australia. Early and regular engagement of community.

Travissi Gilbert Travissi Gilbert 3:12 pm 26 Apr 21

More police does not equal less crime, nor does more prison beds. NSW police spend a lot of time strip searching minors at music festivals and train stations because their Minister reckons that is a sensible use of resources.

Luke Reeves Luke Reeves 2:42 pm 26 Apr 21

NSW is run by a monster cyclops who loves to use the force for intimidation rather than what they should be doing.

We don't really need more, Canberra is a better place, the government here gives more to the people, people are in general happier.

    Robin Kneebone Robin Kneebone 2:52 pm 26 Apr 21

    Luke Reeves until you need the police and have to wait age's for them to turn up. An increase in the ACT wouldn't be a bad thing

Alex Bunyip Alex Bunyip 2:21 pm 26 Apr 21

NSW has a large regional area, comparing police numbers to NSW has no relation to the small size of the ACT.

    Leos Nikias Leos Nikias 2:37 pm 26 Apr 21

    Alex Antoniak

    So you're saying we don't need more police?

    Paul Leins Paul Leins 2:43 pm 26 Apr 21

    That's why the focus is on ratio and not total numbers. And given that ACT has a lot less open land than NSW, their ratio should be our minimum.

    Georgia Clarke Georgia Clarke 2:50 pm 26 Apr 21

    Alex Antoniak the ACT still has the lowest *per capita* police force in the country... all it takes it a scan of the Canberra Notice Board Group or talking to a few people to realise that crime in Canberra is unbelievable

    Rooster James Rooster James 3:06 pm 26 Apr 21

    Alex Antoniak look at the per capita rate.

    Normo McSamuels Normo McSamuels 3:15 pm 26 Apr 21

    Alex Antoniak agreed. My mate works for NSWP. He drove 5 hours to a job recently. While he did that, the uniform police and detectives had to wait 5 hours for him to get to the scene. After the job was done, he then had to drive 5 hours back. That’s 30 hours of police time that wouldn’t have happened in the ACT. Canberra may well need more police, but the police per-capita argument is a very weak one, in a town when everything is within a 20km radius.

    Warwick Alsop Warwick Alsop 5:34 pm 26 Apr 21

    Normo Fett that's hardly the norm. You're talking about a guy probably in broken hill servicing 1/4 of the state and a small population.

    Normo McSamuels Normo McSamuels 5:38 pm 26 Apr 21

    Warwick Alsop it doesn’t have to be the norm, because it is such a big area. If all those people moved into Sydney, they could get by with half as many staff in this particular unit. And that same inefficiency applies to every GDs job, every detective enquire, every traffic response. It adds up. Only 2/3 of NSW population live in Sydney. Travel time affects the other third of the police patrol zones. That is the reason they need more cops per capita.

    Callum Moir Callum Moir 6:22 pm 26 Apr 21

    Georgia Clarke Or we could look at data for precisely that reason. People/media tend to exaggerate crime statistics. This is just tories trying to gin up a fake election issue so that they can run on being ‘tough on crime.’

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