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Police Numbers – Smyth earns his Keep

cranky 29 April 2008 70

That bastion of local news and opinion, the Chronicle, has an article reporting that the sworn (real) Police numbers in the ACT are being fudged by Sonic and Co.

Smyth has uncovered figures showing our numbers of sworn Police per 100,00 is around the 180 mark. This number has stayed fairly constant for the last few years.

A quick Google shows we are seriously lagging behind the States in this equation. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/cfi/cfi116.html

The Australian average seems to be a bit over 210/100K, with WA up in the vicinity of 240.

We are apparently paying for about 540 officers. Based on Australian figures we should have about 730 officers (pop. 350k). Split the diference and we are looking at about 630 – we do have a very concentrated population.

I can only dream of Police numbers increasing by 20/30 per 100K locally, or about 100 real, on the street, sworn officers. Much as I hate to admit it, Smyth probably has a point.


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70 Responses to Police Numbers – Smyth earns his Keep
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DJ DJ 11:50 pm 01 May 08

There is no way to please everybody and I agree with Spideydog regarding the comments made by ant.

You all want results don’t you? You pay taxes and fines and you want to see the outcome. Unfortunately a lot of Policing can’t be measured by accountants looking into small business or large corporations. Crime Statistics don’t take into account incidents that don’t occur because of the work Police carry out. An example of this is Police carrying out RBT at the exit of Pits carpark in the City. Some losers will drive regardless but if a 50/50 driver sees this and changes their mind thus the offence doesn’t occur (depending on the quality of the person he/she has piched up). The same goes for some assaults, thefts and other offences.

Is there a low % of Police per population? Show me a place with sufficient numbers? Ask anybody from interstate or even overseas and there is always a shortage. It is always a knee jerk reaction from the media and individuals who know no better who look for the scapegoat.

Nobody is always happy with Police 100% of the time and those who join do so knowing this. To have a group of individuals who do not represent the greater population putting in their 2c worth is fine but don’t think others opinions are worth less than yours. In my opinion you are wrong and there is nothing the Police or comminuty could do or say – you are whingers without a cause or clue. Ask the AFP media team about the letters of thanks or congratulations received daily from the community to ordinary Police in the ACT.

Crime in the ACT is where it is at because the Courts do not do the job you want them to do. Can anybody say they agree with the decisions made in the Magistrates or Supreme Courts that have made the media lately? If an offender is behind bars it is unlikely they will be up to no good in your backyard….

Spideydog Spideydog 10:39 pm 01 May 08

ant said :

i’m quite amazed that one can give frank, plain examples of poor police service, and still people try to put spin on them, put some kind of “you must be to blame” imputation on them. I’m a Canberra local, I’m private school educated, I’m old, I’m not the kind of person who has much dealings with police, and I’m sorry to say that every dealing I’ve had with police in this town has been very disappointing, if not surprisingly unpleasant. I’ve outlined a few of them. What is so hard to comprehend? Do you feel that maybe I invited their indifference or offensive response?

When I’ve dealt with them, it has been as a law-abiding member of the community. a taxpayer. Not as a law-breaker, suspect, criminal or whatever. I mistakenly expected them to behave like police, not truculent and unmotivated clerks/security guards.

If an ordinary member of the community has had these experiences, face up guys, so have many others. What you’re doing isn’t stopping criminals, and ordinary people in society have no confidence in you. your response to my comments just reinforces the impression.

ant,

You are entitled to your opinion, but so is everyone else….

If policing in the ACT was a bad as you say it is, there would be a whole lot more commotion going on than 2 blokes on an internet blog saying just how bad it is. If the police are that bad and are not doing thier jobs, ie “Isn’t stopping criminals” then why are the courts full of hearings…. The crims don’t hand themselves in do they. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, go to the courts and see just how much of that “Police work” is there and then come back here and say police in the ACT are “Truculent and unmotivated clerks/security guards”

Whats so hard to comprehend you say? I could ask the same question of you… I’ve made my opinion pretty clear, but agan for you… In your own words, you have stated hat you have had “much dealings with police” With such an substantial amount of “dealings” with police and “NEVER” once had a good dealing, the math is going against you – this has caused me to form the opinion that you are a hard man to please in any form.

I’m sorry m8, but your responses have well and trully reinforced my impression of you (who said I was a police member anyways?)

A couple of guys on an internet blog is by no means the “entire voice of the ACT community”. I have no quarms in saying that the majority of the ACT community’s opinion would be in stark contrast to yours…Private education or not…. and yes, I’m public school educated and proud.

ant ant 10:14 pm 01 May 08

Exactly my experience, sepi. I just regard them as an irrelevance now. They issue numbers for insurance claims. If we ever encounter robbers again, well, they’ll be dealt with. We learn by experience.

sepi sepi 10:02 pm 01 May 08

Yep.

I never used to be anti-police. Actually I never had much to do with them, and assumed they were the people to call when you observed a crime or suffered one.

But after trying to call a few times and being fobbed off or not even getting through to anyone I really started to lose faith in the ACT police system.

ant ant 9:57 pm 01 May 08

i’m quite amazed that one can give frank, plain examples of poor police service, and still people try to put spin on them, put some kind of “you must be to blame” imputation on them. I’m a Canberra local, I’m private school educated, I’m old, I’m not the kind of person who has much dealings with police, and I’m sorry to say that every dealing I’ve had with police in this town has been very disappointing, if not surprisingly unpleasant. I’ve outlined a few of them. What is so hard to comprehend? Do you feel that maybe I invited their indifference or offensive response?

When I’ve dealt with them, it has been as a law-abiding member of the community. a taxpayer. Not as a law-breaker, suspect, criminal or whatever. I mistakenly expected them to behave like police, not truculent and unmotivated clerks/security guards.

If an ordinary member of the community has had these experiences, face up guys, so have many others. What you’re doing isn’t stopping criminals, and ordinary people in society have no confidence in you. your response to my comments just reinforces the impression.

Proud Local Proud Local 9:30 pm 01 May 08

Well I have personally taken many a phone call of broken windows, damage done to property and of car’s broken into with items stolen.

I can assure you it all gets written up properly with stolen items all logged into the central database should they show up later. So I don’t know if your dealings were with Police from a bygone era or if you have been given the run-around but trust me, it all gets logged.

There is very little point going to most minor crime scenes as not a lot can be done without any decent evidence. Plus it takes Police away from more serious crimes which as you would appreciate, have to get higher priority.

sepi sepi 5:49 pm 01 May 08

They also told us to make friends with out neighbours, to prevent crime – great idea on a fairly isolated battleaxe block backing some reserve.

Spideydog Spideydog 4:50 pm 01 May 08

sepi,

That has not been my experience and I know that reports of that nature are taken all the time.

If that has happened to you and in that context, then I am sorry that has been your experience.

sepi sepi 4:26 pm 01 May 08

They won’t even take reports of a smashed window or a wrecked letterbox over the phone.

I was told “we could write it up, but we won’t do anything with the report, so it’s just a waste of time so we won’t”

Spideydog Spideydog 4:15 pm 01 May 08

No sepi, I’m not stunned. You are one of two people that say they have had nothing but bad experiences with police (oh except your one good one).

Seriously though, what “lower level crime” do you say should be attended and what circumstances? If you mean cases of , well lets see…ie vandalised letter box – where there is no suspects, no witnesses, no evidence or no avenues of enquiry? What benefit is there in sending a two person patrol to that incident when the same thing can be achieved by simply making a report over the phone. By sending a patrol there, you are a taking it away from atteding more serious crime, takiing a patrol of the road to prevent crime, (ie, patrolling).

“It makes the member of the public feel good that police attended personally to take the report”…. yes it does. But police still have to attend the more serious matters, crime in progress etc. So to boost numbers only to have those greater numbers used to attend “lower level crime” with no avenue of enquiry, is a waste of tax payer money (in my opinion)

Yes, I’m all for more police out on the beat, but use those extra patrols correctly

Just my opinion.

sepi sepi 2:32 pm 01 May 08

I’ve had one good experience with Canberra police and about 10 bad ones.

You state what should happen, and seem stunned that we have had expereinces where that didn’t happen.

I believe Canberra police should attend to lower level crime more often, more seriously and more promptly. And if that means we need more police, lets get them.

Spideydog Spideydog 1:56 pm 01 May 08

ant said :

Spideydog, you are obviously not very intelligent. I gave factual, personal accounts of a normal, middle-aged person’s experience with the police, and you ignored everything I said, stated that I was a liar, and asked for “positive experiences”.

Plainly, your reading skills are poor, as I stated I’d had NO positive experiences with police here. Every time I’ve needed their help, I’ve got none.

I have many other examples too, of their poor attitude, lack of interest in ordinary policing, lack of effectiveness when they did attempt some policing (staking out a commercial premises to catch robbers which had returned every night, and having to be told that their reflective car panels could be seen from the main road), rudeness at roadside RBTs, etc etc.

It is obvious you have some axe to grind, and are not going to listen to anything that doesn’t fit in with that.

Well didnt you get very nasty, very easily. Lord forbid someone having a different opinion to you, or not come to your way of thinking ??? Is this what the Police are doing wrong, ant ? So anyone with a different opinion to you, are “Unintelligent and can’t read”?

If I remember correctly, it was Proud who made the comment of “please provide an example of a good expereince.” But Yes, I did agree with his post. My interpretation of Prouds post, was he was not having a go at your “examples” of bad experiences. He was stating that he found it hard to believe that you have not had “one” good experience and I agreed with that. (correct me if I’m wrong Proud) So NO, I didn’t igonore your post and yes I did see that you stated NO good experiences, so I think you may need to settle down a little before putting on the cranky pants. I didn’t agree or rebuke your “bad examples” because I wasn’t there.

From your posts, it sounds as though you have had substantial amounts of dealings with police and obviously this would mean ALOT of different officers. One or two “bad eggs” I would believe, but in the amount and proportion your talking, I found a little hard to believe, that there is not even “one” good experience.

I am sorry that you’ve had “bad experiences” ant, and I hope that one day, you may actually have a good one, theres at least a couple hundred officers out there…at least one them should do thier job ok…. Do yourself a favour, I am sure that if you were to go to the Magistrates court on pretty much any given day or days, you will see that they are doing the work and a lot of it.

Lastly, what axe have I got to grind… this is the first I’ve heard, perhaps you could fill me in?

thecman thecman 12:02 pm 01 May 08

Ant: “I suspect that the older-fashioned ways of dealing with people who commit crimes was more effective.”

When you refer to these ‘older-fashioned ways’exactly what do you mean? Are you suggesting that a dose of summary assault before sending miscreants home to Mum and Dad or perhaps a good flogging with the old Yellow Pages in the cells may be the way to go. A word of advice – be careful listening to ‘retired ex-senior’ cops – everything was always done better, smarter, more effectively and more efficiently back in their day. There is nothing so ex as an ex cop! ACT crime rates are relatively low and the clear up rates and conviction rates compare very favourably to other Australian jurisdictions – despite a very average DPP and the well documented efforts of the ACT Supreme Court to socially engineer the law from the bench.

Honestly Ant, if you are that dissatisfied with the Policing services provided here how about stumping up some suggestions for improvements – you seem to be quite the expert on law enforcement. If all your experiences with Police in this town have been negative – and you have nominated a large number – perhaps it has more to do with you and your biases then it does with the Police. I suspect it would be very illuminating to hear from Police who have had dealings with you in regard to what your attitude has been like.

The Police, like any govt agency, make mistakes and individual members have varying levels of skill, committment, knowledge and experience – that’s life. There are well known options to report poor performance / dissatisfaction with service – if you are unhappy you should use them.

ant ant 11:16 am 01 May 08

And as to you, Proud Local, do you actually, really, believe I made all that up? Please switch on your brain! Maybe you need to start listening, too, because despite your belief that you are doing a good job (and may well so be doing), these are real examples.

I had a retired ex-senior cop working for me soem years back, and it was evident that policing had changed in the ACT very greatly. I suspect that the older-fashioned ways of dealing with people who commit crimes was more effective. My grandfather, btw, was this man’s Master when he entered an apprenticeship after leaving school. I’m a third generation Canberran, I’m not making up stories about the police, and I’m very disappointed with the “service” ordinary folk get from them.

ant ant 11:07 am 01 May 08

Spideydog, you are obviously not very intelligent. I gave factual, personal accounts of a normal, middle-aged person’s experience with the police, and you ignored everything I said, stated that I was a liar, and asked for “positive experiences”.

Plainly, your reading skills are poor, as I stated I’d had NO positive experiences with police here. Every time I’ve needed their help, I’ve got none.

I have many other examples too, of their poor attitude, lack of interest in ordinary policing, lack of effectiveness when they did attempt some policing (staking out a commercial premises to catch robbers which had returned every night, and having to be told that their reflective car panels could be seen from the main road), rudeness at roadside RBTs, etc etc.

It is obvious you have some axe to grind, and are not going to listen to anything that doesn’t fit in with that.

Crikey Crikey 10:48 am 01 May 08

WOW….I am pleased I don’t hang around with ant…he attracts a lot of bad people.

Spideydog Spideydog 11:00 pm 30 Apr 08

Sorry for the double post 🙁

@123que

123qwe said :

I remember reading somewhere that the Chief Police Officer in the ACT wants to introduce an on-line system that will show what the cops are up to ‘real time’. Can anyone else recall something similar?

I think the cops here do a good job, but this type of transperancy; showing what they are up to, would be a good thing.

I agree, but I think this is a little flawed in the sence that, if where and what police are doing in real time is shown, the crims will also have access to that information…well do I need to go further. Maybe it was planned to be delayed by 24 hrs or something.

It would definitely be a good thing (if practicable) as it may provide proof to the public that police are out there doing the work, showing the constraints they work under and highlight why there is a priority system.

Anything that will help foster a positive image to the public without compromising on operational activities is a good thing.

Spideydog Spideydog 10:03 pm 30 Apr 08

Felix the Cat,

*Too be honest, with a car break in, unless offenders are there (crime in pregress), a suspect is nominated or there is forensic evidence left behind (ie, blood from breaking the window etc), a patrol car is not sent and a report is taken over the phone. So on the face of your story above, i am unsure as to why a car was sent. I am not privy to that particular phone conversation so I can’t answer for sure. Another note, quite a few new officers are out at the moment and some may not know ALL minor procedures fully and senior members can’t monitor all calls received by junior members. They mean the best and have not meant any inconvenience. If something seems wrong, there is nothing wrong with you ringing that particular station and seeking clarification on that issue. I am sure that it is better to have an issue dealt with in a adult manner to eliviate any misconceptions a person may keep with them into the future (if there misconceptions)

*There is no way to evidentially link that “lurker” to your car break in a few weeks earlier, however in saying that, if a car is available (pending other priorities) one would be dispatched to check out the “suspicious behaviour” I find it surprising that they would say “call us when he does something”. Not entirely impossible but highly unlikely, in my opinion.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 9:29 pm 30 Apr 08

To add weight to Ant’s comments I have been involved in a couple of similar situations. Not meaning to ‘bash’ the Police, I understand they are overworked, underpaid and short staffed, just giving a couple of examples of my experiences.

*My car was broken into while it was parked outside the flat I lived in at Hawker and the stereo stolen. I rang the cops to report it, didn’t expect them to do anything about it, was just reporting it. I asked the cop on the phone should I just close the car up and go to work and maybe come down the station later and give a statement? No was the reply, leave everything how it is and we’ll send a car around. So I waited for over two hours, rang back after 1.5hrs and asked when I could expect the the cop to come around and was told tersely that there were other more important crimes happening and I would have to wait and they would be there when they get there. Eventually the cop turned up, went straight over to the car and started touching everything. I thought they were going to take fingerprints (why else would they tell me to leave it and not touch it). Not taking prints said the cop, took a quick statement as to what was taken and then left. Took 5 mins and I could of done that over the phone!

*A few weeks later I came home late (after midnight) one weeknight and saw someone lurking about in the shadows. I went upstairs and rang the cops and told them what I saw and explained my car was broken into not long ago and that the ‘lurker’ could possibly be the culprit. Cop told me to ring back “when they do something”!

bd84 bd84 9:18 pm 30 Apr 08

Wide Boy Jake said :

Actually I like the police situation in Canberra the way it is. The cops here are kept in their proper place, as a result we have a level of freedom unheard of in other places. I remember when I went to Queanbeyan last year and tried to walk up the main street there were more cops than people! On foot, driving up and down – it was like a police state. If anything we should reduce the number of cops in Canberra further. I certainly won’t be voting for anybody pushing that old hag Laura Norder or any promise to increase police numbers and make them more intrusive.

I went to Queanbeyan once too!
I don’t think you can classify it as a “police state”. The truth is that if you’re doing the right thing you’re unlikely to ever have a problem with “police harassing you” it’s as simple as that. Plus I bet you’re the first one crying foul if someone mugged you in said street and there didn’t happen to be “more police than people” walking down the street.

sepi said :

Yep.

Noone in this thread has said police are corrupt or lazy.

ant has done a pretty good job of portraying as such, perhaps his examples of their unresponsiveness and driving around in bling guarding buildings were poorly worded and missed the part mentioning “due to low numbers”

Anyway, the story about police numbers are what we’ve known for many years. it gets brought up every 18 months or so before getting swept under the carpet by the useless government. I myself have rang police to have them show up hours later after the event when there’s not much to be done, I totally don’t blame the officers themselves.. a couple of times i’ve found out from the officers that they have come all the way from civic or belconnen to deal with the call in woden/tuggeranong, which highlights the issue with police numbers.

The government’s response to this will be providing money in the budget for 15 new officers over the next 2 years (on top of the i think it was 20 over 3 years in the last budget), and i’m sure the levels leaving the force would outnumber this. We all know we need at least another 80 to 100 to actually see some policing around the place, but then there’s stanhopeless…

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