Queensland Police are “struggling” to get on top of crime in the state, a leading criminologist says, with new figures showing officers are taking longer to solve crimes.
The data, tabled in the 2017-18 Queensland Police Service (QPS) annual report, showed clearance rates for major crimes dropped significantly and were the worst in five years.
Clearance rates include the number of offences where a charge is laid within 30 days of being reported.
The QPS blamed the Commonwealth Games for taking priority, but the police union said staff were under increasing pressure and asked to do “more with less”.
The figures showed a clearance rate decline for violent crimes like homicide, assault, sexual assault and personal safety offences during the last financial year. Robbery offences were the exception.
Fewer property crimes were also cleared within target, compared to previous years.
Meanwhile, the figures showed a steady increase in general crimes reported cross the state.
Bond University Associate Professor in Criminology Terry Goldsworthy, who previously served as an officer for three decades, said the results were far from commendable.
Terry Goldsworthy has called for a review of the 2013 carve-up of police districts. (ABC 7.30)
Dr Goldsworthy said it was worrying to see an increase in personal and property crime, but a decrease in “enforcement” offences like drug crimes.
“You’ve got a drop in the amount of crime being solved and you’ve got an increase in the crime being reported,” he said.
“So what it indicates to me is that the police at the moment just aren’t on top of crime in Queensland and are struggling to get on top of it.”
Queensland ‘much safer than 20 years ago’
A QPS spokesman said the commitment to the Commonwealth Games may have been a factor in the statistical drop.
“Numbers can vary depending on competing priorities for proactive and reactive policing,” he said.
“The QPS made a significant commitment to the safety and security of the community in the lead-up to and during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast earlier this year.”
The Commonwealth Games was the biggest security operation in the state’s history, with police playing a significant role. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)
The spokesman said the number of homicides was “relatively small”, and said some sexual assault investigations took longer to finalise because of their complexity.
While taking questions on youth crime last week, Deputy Commissioner Bob Gee said overall crime rates were improving.
“If you look at the long-term state of crime in Queensland, we’re very safe,” he said.
“I’ve got to say, over the 30-odd years I’ve been policing, Queensland is as safe now as it was five years ago, 10 years ago. It’s much much safer than it was 20 years ago.”
Calls for restructure to be scrutinised
Unlike previous years, the total number of offences was not released in the annual report and only percentages were included.
Union president Ian Leavers said police resources could not be stretched much further. (AAP: Tertius Pickard)
While the QPS said that was consistent with “government standards”, Queensland Police Union boss Ian Leavers said he saw “no reason” for why the full data could not be made public.
“Policing in Queensland is completely stretched to the limit and the rubber band can be stretched only so far,” he said.
Dr Goldsworthy said there should be an immediate evaluation of the 2013 QPS restructure, which saw eight police regions reduced to five.
“Has there been an examination of its effectiveness, and if so, what does that review show? Because clearly the results we’re seeing on the ground are not that positive,” he said.
Opposition MP Trevor Watts said police resources should be boosted to deal with the extra pressure.
Police Minister Mark Ryan was contacted for comment but was unavailable.