Record number of ACT murders in 2021 despite fall in overall crime rate

Lottie Twyford 14 January 2022 27
ACT Policing vehicle blocking road

A record number of murders took place in the ACT in 2021 despite an overall reduction in reported crime. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

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.


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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.

Row of police officers and traffic

ACT Policing were required to step into additional COVID-19 compliance roles during lockdown in 2021. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

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.


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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.


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27 Responses to Record number of ACT murders in 2021 despite fall in overall crime rate
Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:45 am 19 Jan 22

A lot of crime in my neighbourhood has certainly been reported, some serious home invasions included but the police media have not promulgated details to the general public.

Smithers Smithers 2:42 pm 17 Jan 22

2014 doesn’t seem accurate? From 1992 – 2002 Canberra saw 19 homicide cases solved. Only one remained outstanding. From 2002 the unsolved tally increased. 13 is a bit of a surprise. I’d thought that Canberra sees roughly 2-4 a year usually.

    Ian Ian 12:08 am 18 Jan 22

    Chances are that 13 is an outlier, an anomaly, with little real significance to any trend.

Liza Jensen Liza Jensen 8:43 pm 15 Jan 22

Not sure we can really trust any figures the police give out, cause I never see them around? Canberra seems pretty lawless so I’m surprised they have any figures at all? I was under the impression the police had more important stuff to do than actually police and stop/solve crime. I’ve been living back in Canberra for 2 years now and I think I’ve seen more speeding camera vans than police cars around in that whole time.

rspg rspg 5:09 pm 15 Jan 22

The headline of this article is misleading on the ‘fall in overall crime rate,’ if the rest of the report is correct. Family violence-related incidents rose, the number of general assaults recorded also increased, general theft and motor vehicle theft both increased. The only crime that dropped were ‘other offences’ – fraud, weapons, drug and environmental or public order offences. And is that partly because major investigations into crimes such as fraud were shelved during the ACT’s COVID-19 lockdown?
Having lived in this beautiful city for nearly 40 years, I can see the increased desperation of certain sections of the community being exacerbated by the skyrocketing rents and rates and ever-increasing costs of living in Canberra and compounded by the Fed govt’s entirely uncharitable stance on welfare. Add to that our invitation to bikie gangs to take up residence in the ACT as its one safe haven from tighter laws in other states.
So to claim a fall in overall crime rate? You can see the increase in crime in the ACT. I don’t remember seeing burnt out stolen cars on the sides of major roads like I have in the last two years. In almost 40 years I’ve never seen so many homeless camped out at shopping centres and begging, be it Dickson, Kippax or Civic. And I don’t know that the Barr Labor govt even cares so long as they’re selling land blocks at ever-increasing prices.

Tony Hanley Tony Hanley 1:26 pm 15 Jan 22

Probably had PPO's on them and felt safe

Jimmy J LaRue Jimmy J LaRue 1:19 pm 15 Jan 22

Der, everyone’s been home for two years. Thieves less opportunity, more murders cause we’re sick of each other 🤪

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 12:40 pm 15 Jan 22

People stopped reporting them probably because they got no assistance.

Reneé Nelson Reneé Nelson 12:07 pm 15 Jan 22

Maybe because people have been saying that unless you are physically being threatened the ACT police won't respond....

    Onelia Herriot Onelia Herriot 12:45 pm 15 Jan 22

    Reneé Nelson these ared states from last year. It is only from the start of 2022 that they are not responding to non-urgent crimes

Darcy Ryan Darcy Ryan 11:38 am 15 Jan 22

More murders than road toll. Something is wrong in the community. Drugs, loss of respect, Courts to lenient on offenders?

Steve Ulr Steve Ulr 11:14 am 15 Jan 22

One word. Methamphetamine

Scott Anthony Scott Anthony 10:59 am 15 Jan 22

When you have a government that encourages drug use and 6 bikie gangs to establish themselves in Canberra you’re going to see large increases in violent crime and property theft and drug driving and road fatalities… Sadly that means more Canberrans will suffer harm but the morons will still call this ‘progressive and vote Labor/Green because they can’t see the clear lines between drug use and crime.

Scott Abela Scott Abela 10:50 am 15 Jan 22

Likely corresponds to the rise in drug use.!

    Guy Noble Guy Noble 11:56 am 15 Jan 22

    Scott Abela am 53 been smoking pot daily since 16, only crime i have ever commited was a DUI. you have proof of this or just an uneducated opinion

    Rooster James Rooster James 3:41 pm 15 Jan 22

    Guy Noble weird flex but ok.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 10:28 am 15 Jan 22

So has the overall crime rate dropped, or have people just stopped reporting it ?

    Tim Saisell Tim Saisell 10:43 am 15 Jan 22

    Corey Karl why not both??

    Corey Karl Corey Karl 10:45 am 15 Jan 22

    Tim Saisell I’m simply asking is the reason the reported rate has dropped because it’s happening less, or because people have stopped reporting it…. Via email 🤣🤣🤡

    Scott Abela Scott Abela 10:51 am 15 Jan 22

    I'm betting reporting has dropped! Because all I hear and see on Facebook are people seeking help for stolen stuff these days.

    Mark Monterosso Mark Monterosso 12:10 pm 15 Jan 22

    Corey Karl how can you expect to see evidence that it's because people have stopped reporting it?

    Lee Gray Lee Gray 10:02 am 16 Jan 22

    Tim Saisell a large majority of Canberrans have likely reduced reporting crime, due to the Barr government not doing enough for police resources and the encouragement of softer penalties for crime. The sooner we take action into out own hands the better.

    James Forge James Forge 9:44 pm 17 Jan 22

    Lee Gray Could that be why violent crime has increased? Is it Violent punishment for crimes otherwise unpunished?

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 6:53 pm 18 Jan 22

    Corey Karl I doubt people have stopped reporting crimes/burglaries, even if now necessary to do online as you still need this evidence to seek an insurance claim.

Futureproof Futureproof 10:00 am 15 Jan 22

“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” Says it all really. The government could have used mowing contractors to do those duties. After all, they seem to be sitting around a lot, judging by the length of grass

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 9:50 am 15 Jan 22

13/431000 = 3 per 100000. US states vary from 1-2 (NH, VT, etc) right up to 12 (LA).

    tfx1 tfx1 2:02 pm 15 Jan 22

    Australia currently runs at 1.5/100000, up from the normal 1/100000.

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