January 31, 2016 12:00am
- 600 crimes against people or property everyday in WA last year
- Domestic assaults up 22 per cent, homicides up 19 per cent in 12 months
- WA Police Commissioner admits police don’t have answers for crime surge
- 40 extra police officers will be used to bolster response times from this week
THE true extent of the state’s surging crime rate has been laid bare with more than 600 crimes against people or property committed every day in WA last year.
That is up from 540 crimes a day the previous year and 534 crimes a day in 2013, and equates to about one offence every two minutes and 20 seconds somewhere in the state.
WA Police calculates its statistics in financial years but The Sunday Times analysed the figures in calendar years from 2013 to 2015 to determine how much crime has surged in the past 12 months – when Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan’s controversial Frontline 2020 policing model was rolled out across the metro area.
In 12 months:
- domestic assaults surged 22 per cent
- deprivation of liberty jumped 21 per cent
- threatening behaviour increased 20 per cent
- homicides leapt 19 per cent
- non-domestic assaults were up 7 per cent
In total, offences against people increased 14 per cent from 37,043 in 2014 to 42,449 in 2015.
Similarly, offences against property increased 12 per cent in the past year from 160,676 offences in 2014 to 179,544 in 2015, fuelled by a 14 per cent increase in both theft and property damage, a 9 per cent jump in home burglaries and a 5 per cent jump in stolen cars.
Every crime category against people or property increased in the past year – with the exception of sexual assault and arson which stayed virtually the same – and non-business robberies, which dropped by 2 per cent.
The WA Government, Police Minister Liza Harvey and Mr O’Callaghan say the crime rise is complex but includes factors as diverse as rising methamphetamine use, “tap and go” credit cards, homeowners failing to lock doors and windows, and belongings left unattended on the beach.
Last August Operation Sweep was launched after a winter crime spike and although WA Police vowed that “the public and offenders will definitely see a difference”, crime rates changed little.
It comes as WA Police also moved the goalposts on response times, bumping up the target for priority one and two jobs from nine to 12 minutes and for priority three jobs from 25 to 60 minutes in a move the police union described as a ploy to put a positive spin on Frontline 2020.
But Mr O’Callaghan said the changes better reflected how long it took police to reach call-outs. He previously admitted response times were “not up to scratch” but this week said the times were improving.
“Response times have gradually gotten better, from 15-16 per cent behind (WA Police’s 80 per cent target for priority one and two jobs) to one per cent behind,” the Commissioner said.
Police Minister Liza Harvey acknowledged the crime hike on Sunday morning but refuted claims it was linked to the new policing model.
“There are lots of complex drivers with respect to crime rates,” she said.
“We have strategies in place with other government agencies to make sure we can start to address some of those issues.
“If I had the answer I’d have every single nation in the world knocking on my door to find it – no one has the answer 100 per cent.”
She said key agencies met on Thursday to map out strategies to manage the spiralling rate of family and domestic violence.
An additional 10 officers will be added to the four metropolitan response teams to respond to the officer fatigue identified in a review of the Frontline 2020 policing model.
The Minister said she did not believe morale was falling amongst officer ranks, despite contradicting claims from Police Union members.
“Morale is high. Every police officer I talk to is enjoying their job,” she said.
“They’re communicating with the police executives to ensure Frontline 2020 works – we’re getting great feedback from the officers and we’re responding to that.”