In the Media

Opinion Piece — Crime

CRIME.

Saturday 12 January, 2019.

Police should collect and publish crime statistics based on race

Late last year, a man held scissors to the throat of a woman as she sat in my local park eating lunch.  In broad daylight, the man assaulted her, and then drove off with her car. Vicious crimes are now happening in the places where we once felt safe. Is there any wonder why Victorians are living in fear?

And unfortunately, people increasingly feel like politicians don’t understand what’s happening on the ground, let alone have faith they can fix the things that are broken.

To me, solving the crime problem seems simple: the government needs to invest more in law and order; we need to ask what effect shutting suburban police stations and moving police into regional complexes has had on community policing; we have to make the sentencing regime tougher, especially on repeat offenders; and we need to tackle the mentality that prioritises criminals’ rights over the rights of victims, because it encourages disrespect for authority. Perhaps we also need to look at other lateral ideas too. As most train stations are next to main streets, why shouldn’t we look at allowing PSOs off stations to patrol?

As a community, we have had a gutful of criminals’ rights. That is why people are increasingly incensed by media reports that a small minority of immigrants are committing some of the worst crimes.  Victorians have big hearts, but they will not tolerate people who have no respect for the community that has welcomed them. 

Are African gangs responsible for some of the most violent crimes? Or is it a media beat up? We don’t know, because the police only collect country of birth data for charged offenders. What about all of the others yet to be charged, people who are stopped, questioned, or interviewed by police? A Deputy Commissioner recently explained the decision not to racially profile by saying, “… people think it would create more community harm by asking the question of ethnicity”.

It beggars belief that we are now so politically correct we are worrying about how suspects feel answering factual based questions. The police should be collecting demographic data, including information on ethnicity, and they should publish it. Having accurate information is the best way for our authorities to identify if particular groups are committing certain crimes, and to develop the policy solutions to stop them.

With Victoria’s population growing by one person every five minutes, the challenges of cultural integration and maintaining social cohesion will become even more important for future state governments. But our politicians must understand that cohesion can’t come at the expense of common sense.

The opportunity for all political parties is to recognise that showing leadership on the issue of social integration will pay dividends at the ballot box. The community will reward governments that are not afraid to have an honest factual discussion, so long as they have the courage to fix whatever problems are uncovered.

That doesn’t mean there is room for a new extremist political party that demonises people or offers impractical solutions. But neither is there one for flowery apologists who have a black­armband approach to Australian culture.

Our community is crying out for their politicians to show leadership, identify the real problems we face, and do something to fix them – and that must start with making our streets, and our homes, safe again.