After a welcome absence in 2006, Laura Norder has taken up residence in Victoria for the election campaign. And the conservatives have her front and center, as their campaign ads show.
Their key claim – Victorians are living in fear of rising violent crime:
Labor’s 11 years of failure and the Liberals plan to change Victoria for the better. Under John Brumby, violent crime has reached record highs and assaults are up, but police are spending less time on the streets protecting Victorians and more time behind a desk doing paperwork. Many Victorian families are living in real fear and face rising levels of violent crime and too few police on the frontline to protect them. Labor spends the least per person on policing of any state. Since Labor came to power, assaults have increased from 19,000 incidents in 1999/2000 to 34,981 incidents last year.
Their response? The usual.
1600, wait, there’s more, 2640 additional police and protective services offices – and to abolish suspended sentencing. Labor, is offering, amongst other things 2100 new cops and that mother of all placebos, CCTV cameras (which don’t reduce violent crime – but don’t tell either of the major parties that).
But let’s stop a minute. Is violent crime actually rising, and if so, how much?
The source for the Liberal Party’s numbers are Victoria Police’s crime statistics, and the raw numbers on the assaults appear to be accurate. However, there’s at least two reasons to be skeptical that quoting assault numbers is indicative of huge rises in violent crime.
The first is that Victoria’s population has risen substantially since 1999/2000, which accounts for some, but not all of the rise.
However, there’s also the question of family violence, the reported levels of which have increased a lot over the past few years. However, I’d bet considerable amounts of money that the family violence isn’t new – what’s new is the willingness of the victims to report it.
Unfortunately, the police don’t provide a detailed breakdown of those statistics, but they do claim the following in their most recent statistics summary:
In terms of a rate per 100,000 population, crime against the person has increased by 0.7%. In 2009/2010 there were 45,385 offences of crime against the person recorded. This is an increase of 2.9% compared
with 2008/2009. In 2009/2010, total crime against the person offences not arising from family incidents as a rate per 100,000 population decreased by 1.0% compared to 2008/2009 and have decreased by 0.6% since 2000/2001.
While there are any number of complexities not dealt with in the available statistics (for instance, the possibility that assaults may be resulting in more serious injuries) if we have a real increase in violent crime, it seems a major part of it is taking place inside our homes, not on our streets.
Accordingly, I wait with anticipation for the Coalition to announce their policies to use those extra police to enforce AVOs, their funding of extra women’s shelters, and so on. Anybody want to give odds on that happening?