In 2021, crime reported to police dropped by almost 20 per cent in the ACT despite a record number of murders, 13, and an increase in assaults, family violence and motor vehicle theft and general theft.
According to ACT Policing’s latest crime statistics for the 2021 calendar year, there were 34,991 offences reported in 2021, compared to 41,330 in 2020.
In general, offences reported to police were down on 2020 levels in all eight of the Territory’s districts last year. In Canberra’s two most populated regions of Belconnen and Tuggeranong, crime fell by around 25 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.
But 13 homicides in one year is the highest since crime statistics were made publicly available in 2014. Previously, the record was 10 in 2015.
In each of the months of February, July and September, three murders were recorded.
The most recent of the 13 murders was in December 2021 when 29-year-old Indigenous man Jordan Powell was murdered in an alleyway in Civic after an altercation.
The June murder of 48-year-old Phillip man Glenn Walewicz, who was shot after opening his front door, remains unsolved.
Sadly, despite extended periods of lockdowns and quieter periods on the ACT’s roads, the number of road fatalities increased to 10, up from six in 2020.
The most recent of these was a 43-year-old man who died in Taylor in December in a construction area after being pinned by a truck trailer.
Collisions that resulted in injury also increased slightly from 367 in 2020, to 371 in 2021.
As well as a record number of murders, violence continued to increase in the ACT community.
Family violence-related incidents rose from 3159 in 2020, to 3468 in 2021 – an increase of just under 10 per cent.
The number of general assaults recorded also increased very slightly. There were 2728 assaults reported in 2021, up from 2654 in 2020.
Even though more Canberrans were at home last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, general theft and motor vehicle theft both increased.
General theft increased to 7801 incidents in 2021, up from 7134 in 2020, while 1409 motor vehicles were reported as stolen, up from 1229 in 2020.
Last year, Belconnen recorded the most car thefts with 284 cars stolen, followed by the Inner North with 269 and Tuggeranong with 222.
The category of offences that ACT Policing defines as ‘other offences’, which includes fraud, weapons, drug and environmental or public order offences, recorded the most significant drop from 2020 to 2021.
Almost 25 per cent fewer offences were categorised in this section in 2021 – 9659 compared to 12,796 in 2020.
But major investigations into crimes such as fraud were shelved during the ACT’s COVID-19 lockdown as policing resources came under increasing pressure, some of which stretched back to the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires.
At the height of the ACT’s Delta-induced lockdown, more than 110 police officers were diverted into COVID-19 compliance teams.
Detectives who would normally have undertaken investigations into organised crime and fraud were redirected towards COVID-19 compliance activities such as border checks and door knocking.
Most compliance activities came to an end in October 2021, but checks on people in quarantine continued for some weeks after that.