Police data reveals drop in crime rate

CRIME DATA: Ceduna District Council chief executive officer Geoffrey Moffatt looking over crime statistics obtained from SAPOL's new online database. Picture: Luca Cetta

CRIME DATA: Ceduna District Council chief executive officer Geoffrey Moffatt looking over crime statistics obtained from SAPOL's new online database. Picture: Luca Cetta

Statistics obtained from South Australia Police’s (SAPOL) new online database outlining crime numbers has indicated a drop in crime figures in the Ceduna region since 2013.

SAPOL recently released a new online tool that allows for the tracking of crime statistics by suburbs and postcodes throughout the state and the numbers show a drop in crime in regions under the cashless card trial.

Among these figures is a drop of 50 instances of ‘property damage and environmental’ from 189 in 2015 to 139 this year, 13 ‘fraud deception and related offences’ in 2013 to four this year, fewer instances of ‘serious criminal trespass’ from 112 in 2015 to 83 in 2017 and a reduction of ‘theft and related offences’ from 2016’s 216 to 142 instances so far this year.

However the number of ‘acts intended to cause injury’ jumped from 176 in 2014 to 242 so far in 2017.

Ceduna District Council chief executive officer Geoffrey Moffatt said the data helped address cashless card misconceptions.

“What was important for me when looking at these stats was in relation to the cashless card, as there was a perception around town that crime had generally increased as a result of the introduction of the card,” he said.

“Until this data came out, data was only available on a local police area basis and what it has showed us for the first time is we could confirm that during the 2016-17 financial year, which is close enough to the trial period, relative to prior years there has been a significant increase in offences against property.

“A number of offences dropped significantly, although violence against the person has increased.”

Mr Moffatt said after discussions with SAPOL and in meetings with various groups there was a feeling that more people were reporting assault crimes, which could account for the higher numbers in that area.

Local cashless card opponent David Pav said while it could be considered a factor, the card was not the only reason.

“We need to start looking into possible contributing factors before heading down the road that the card is a great thing,” he said.

“A lot of people have left town, possibly because of the card, and many things have been put into place in recent years, such as the introduction of Street Beat, the coordination between various services around town and the implementation of alcohol restrictions in town.

“It would be naive to have it all attributed to the card.”

It would be irrational to argue it is purely due to the card, but the comfort for council is that those crime numbers haven’t increased during the trial period.

Ceduna District Council chief executive officer Geoffrey Moffatt

Mr Moffatt agreed that the cashless card was not the sole reason for the reduction.

“It would be irrational to argue it is purely due to the card, but the comfort for council is that those crime numbers haven’t increased during the trial period,” he said.

“It reinforces council’s decision to support initiatives – if we were seeing worse outcomes then we would have to question if they were the right decision, but indications are otherwise.”

Mr Moffatt pointed to other services within Ceduna as additional factors.

“Maybe some people are not aware that council are contributing $150,000 towards the operation of Street Beat because council thought it was an important initiative and were prepared to make a financial contribution,” he said.

“The data outcomes again reinforce it was a good decision.

“Council is happy with how things are progressing.”

More than 18 months into the cashless card trial in Ceduna, Mr Pav said he still had a a fundamental issue with the card.

“I don’t support it in its current mandatory format, it should be an individual, case-by-case basis which would be the non-discriminatory way instead of tarring all with the same brush,” he said.

“We were told there was no other way to do it, but I dispute that.”

Mr Pav said that in his experience the community was safer in the 12 months before the introduction of the card and that the issues were not as visible as before.

“There is a different sort of upset going on in town,” he said.

“The issues are no longer pushed publicly in people’s faces so much, they have crept away into other areas.”

Mr Moffatt said it was now a safer community.

“I personally believe that and elected members believe it is too,” he said.

“I have been here for five years and have never felt Ceduna is an unsafe community, but if you want to make general analogies with other places then I feel it is a safe place.”