The ACT continues to have the lowest number of operational police per capita than any other jurisdiction in Australia yet Canberrans feel safer here than almost anywhere else in the country, according to the latest report on government services.
In a worrying trend for police across the country, the victims of crime data reveals the number of physical assaults has risen significantly nationally, with the ACT up by 3.7 per cent, slightly above that of Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
Public attitudes to speeding and drink driving remain a persistent issue in the ACT, the report found.
In 2017-18, Canberra drivers admitted to being among the worst speeders in the country with 66.3 per cent of drivers indicating they had driven at 10km/h or higher above the speed limit.
Equally concerning was that during the same period, 11 per cent of Canberra drivers admitted they had driven a vehicle when possibly over the 0.05 BAC legal limit, against the national average of 8 per cent. Only South Australia, at 11.1 per cent, and the Northern Territory, at 12.4 per cent, reported worse outcomes.
The latest report on police services spans the 2018-2019 period and has 15 separate indicators, including outcomes of investigations, crime victimisation, public perceptions of crime, public perceptions of safety, complaints against police, road safety and court outcomes.
ACT police say that their operational numbers are not directly comparable with other jurisdictions because Canberra has few regional policing areas and the ACT also has a shared services model with the federal police for services such as forensics and specialist response.
Nationally, the average recurrent expenditure on policing is $493.70 per person in the population. The ACT's cost was the lowest in the country at $438.40, up from $419.40 the previous year.
According to the interpretation, this is desirable because "low expenditure per person may reflect more efficient outcomes or lower quality or less challenging crime and safety situations".
One of the most significant discrepancies between the ACT and other jurisdictions from the report was in the timely finalisation of sexual assault matters.
In 2018, only 27.8 per cent of sex assaults in the ACT were finalised and criminal proceedings instituted against the offender within 30 days of the offence being reported.
This was the worst outcome in Australia and was in stark contrast with Tasmania, which recorded the best outcome for this crime type at 91.1 per cent.
This particular issue was highlighted recently by the ACT Human Rights Commission, which is concerned that it has no capability to investigate these types of issues independently because the ACT's police are federal officers, contracted to the ACT government.
The ACT also fared comparatively badly in quickly finalising investigations into unarmed robbery. The territory's success rate of identifying and charging an offender with unarmed robbery within 30 days was 69.6 per cent, the lowest in Australia.
These outcomes are supported by data from ACT Policing's 2018-19 annual report, in which police report their "clearance" rates for offences committed against a person - which determines whether charges are substantiated or dropped - were 71.8 per cent, down from 76.9 per cent the previous reporting year.
Perceptions of public safety in the ACT police is among the best in the country. Canberra residents who felt safe at home alone at night sat at 95 per cent, above the national average and equal to that of NSW.
Canberrans also felt safer travelling on public transport than in any other state or territory, and 57.8 per cent said they felt "safe" or "very safe" walking alone at night in their neighbourhood, which is above the national average.
The report also revealed that nationally, there has been a steady decline in the confidence that the public has for police to deal with people "fairly and equally". In the ACT, 74.2 per cent of people agree that they do, a fall of three per cent from the previous reporting period.
Complaints against police in the ACT are the lowest per capita in the country, although the ACT Human Rights Commission believes this could be partly attributable to the fact that complaints may "drop off" because the referral body for complaints against ACT officers is federal, not local.