The ABC’s Fact Check has labelled the Queensland Government’s claim that its new anti-bikie laws have reduced crime “exaggerated”.
The article was published yesterday and examines a Queensland Liberal National Party press release dated 5 January 2015 and claims made by Premier Campbell Newman on the campaign trail. The election will take place on 31 January 2015.
Newman cited the following specific offences in a press conference: robbery, down 27%, unlawful entry, down 20% and motor vehicle theft, down 19%. The time period covered is July to November 2014. The accuracy of the statistics themselves was not disputed by the ABC.
The anti-bikie laws in question were introduced in October 2013 by the Newman Government. They included restrictive bail laws, criminal sanctions for individuals who associate deemed criminal gangs and laws around ownership and employment at tattoo parlours. This followed the heavily publicised Broadbeach riot matter, in which Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers are acting. They have been the subject of criticism from civil liberties groups, lawyers and the judiciary for their draconian, politicised and unfair character.
The ABC consulted Queensland University of Technology criminologist Kerrie Carrington on the Government’s claims. She accused the government of cherry-picking those specific offences which had dropped heavily, and ignoring the other offences whose prevalence did not change dramatically in the period identified. She also criticised the short four-month period, which was probably selected on the basis of the results quoted and not tailored to a timeframe which might sensibly be thought to correlate with the supposed cause of the crime statistics, that being the introduction of the anti-bikie legislation. Carrington identified contemporaneous increases in other specific crimes, such as assault, kidnapping and shop stealing. The professor has undertaken her own research, which in fact shows a steady decline in crime in Queensland over the past 12 years, spanning Liberal and Labor governments. Carrington emphasises that Queensland lacks an independent crime statistics unit to prevent data from being misused during election campaigns. In NSW, the Bureau of Crime Stastics and Research, which operates under the Attorney General, provides reliable data on crime statistics and informs debate accordingly. For example, the Bureau’s September 2014 quarterly report highlighted national survey data showing methamphetamine or ice use had jumped since 2013, prompting many news outlets to comment on this startling and problematic trend.
The claim that laws targeting a small proportion of the population have had a direct impact on the incidence on crime in Queensland is clearly problematic. Fact Check brands the Newman Government’s claims “exaggerated”.
Image credit: Courier Mail
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