Former Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie. Photo: Michelle Smith
Queensland’s crime rates have dropped since the state government’s crackdown on criminal bikie gangs began in October – but not as much as it would like you to believe.
The government has been keen to spruik crime stats it says proves anti-gang legislation is working, with Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie last week claiming there had been “the sharpest decline in crime reduction across the state in recorded history”, citing figures of between 20 and 50 percent, since the laws were introduced in October.
But information from the government’s open data initiative and its own ‘settled figures’ tells a different story.
The MyPolice open data statistics, which uses ‘reported offences’ and the government warns is a “general information source only”, shows only a 2.8 per cent drop in all offences across the state when comparing October 2012 to April 2013 with October 2013 to April 2014.
A spokesman for police minister Jack Dempsey said their data showed a 5 per cent reduction in all crime across the state from October 2013 to the end of March 2014 when compared to the same period the year before.
With reductions in all offences across the state only in the single digits regardless of whether ‘reported’ or ‘settled’ data is used, the government has preferred to concentrate on single data sets it says relates directly to its war on bikies.
Including Mr Bleijie.
"We have seen data, we have looked at previous government statements in relation to crime reduction and we can't find any statements that there has been a 54 per cent reduction in crime," he told ABC radio last week.
"I will qualify it with this, in areas, sometimes it has gone down by 4 per cent, sometimes it is 20 per cent but the average crime reduction in the state since our criminal gang laws have been put in place has been over 20 per cent in most jurisdictions.
"...From when we introduced the criminal gang laws in October to April this year, compared to the previous year in the same period, the best we can make of it, the Sunshine Coast for example, there has been a 54 per cent reduction in robberies.
"That is a mixture of things - more police, revitalising frontline services, making Queensland the safest place to raise a family, a strong plan for a brighter future.”
And Mr Dempsey.
“Crimes typically associated with criminal gangs, including robbery and unlawful entry, are down by 22% across the state,” his spokesman said in a statement.
“These statistics fluctuate based on regions and offences, for example robberies on the Sunshine Coast have seen a reduction of 54% compared to a drop of 35% in Townsville.
“...These results show our strong plan for a brighter future is keeping mums, dads and children in communities across Queensland even safer.”
Queensland police reported 980 arrests with 2350 charges of criminal motorcycle gang members and their associates.
Open data crime rates showed overall crime was reduced 3.5 per cent from October 2013 and May 2014.
Of those 2350 charges, 997 have been finalised – meaning the alleged offenders have faced court.
“Whilst a generalised figure cannot be given we provide the following regarding various crime classes for the state; robbery – down by 23 per cent, unlawful entry of dwellings – down by 22 per cent, assault – down by 5 per cent, unlawful use of motor vehicles – down by 23 per cent and offences against property – down by 14 per cent,” a police spokeswoman said in a statement.
Those figures are for the period of 1 October 2012 to 31 May 2014 compared to the same period the year before and are “per 100,000 head of population”.
Bond University criminologist assistant professor Terry Goldsworthy said it was an example of how statistics “can be used to say whatever you want them to” if the motivations were right.
“I am curious about how they draw this massive leap of faith that bikies are responsible for armed robberies, break and enters and things like that,” he said.
“My experience as a police officer for 28 years was that they really seldom committed break and enters and seldom committed armed robberies.
“Some of the data that we have managed to obtain from the Queensland Police themselves – on the Gold Coast over a five month period of 2012-13 – they committed about two break and enters.
“So to me, these crimes that they are trying to link to those bikie groups are just not substantial crimes that they commit. I don’t see any relevance in claiming that the bikie laws have decreased break and enters.”