A top civil libertarian says Queensland’s police commissioner must stop supporting the Newman government’s law and order agenda.
Queensland’s police commissioner must stop publicly backing the government’s law and order agenda, a top civil libertarian says.
Terry O’Gorman has attacked Police Commissioner Ian Stewart for releasing preliminary crime data days out from Saturday’s Stafford by-election.
The vice-president of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties says there’s a growing practice among senior police to praise the Newman government’s crime-fighting policies.
He says Queensland now lacks an independent source of crime statistics and sentencing information, after the Sentencing Advisory Council was shut down.
He also noted the Crime and Corruption Commission’s research division could now only carry out research into crime statistics with the attorney-general’s permission.
“We are now back in the position where crime statistics can be released close to elections in order to bolster the law-and-order vote with no independent bodies being able to comment on crime figures and clear-up rates,” Mr O’Gorman said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said Mr Stewart should explain his decision to release unverified crime data so close to the Stafford poll.
He called on the commissioner to cease a “growing practice of making media comment in support of the politics and policies of the state government’s law and order agenda”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Stewart told ABC radio he’s briefed cabinet on crime figures for the 2013-14 financial year, despite the fact they won’t be finalised by qualified statisticians for two to six weeks.
“I told them that we’re certainly going to exceed the stretched target that I initiated almost 18 months ago, which was that we wanted crime to be dropped by more than 10 per cent,” Mr Stewart said.
He said the rate of crime reported by the public, including break-ins and assaults, is down. Meanwhile, the rate of police-detected crime, such as drug offences, is up.
“What that shows is the police department is working harder and that’s because the government has supported us with all of those extra police and they’ve supported us with the strategies we use and the legislation,” he said.
But Mr O’Gorman said the picture Mr Stewart had painted was at odds with some crime trends tracked by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
He said ABS data, published in February for the 2012-13 financial year, showed Queensland homicide offences were up 28 per cent, prohibited weapons offences were up 8 per cent, and sexual assaults up 7 per cent.
The ABS data also showed the state recorded the fastest growth in illicit drug offences with almost 90,000 offences in that year, Mr O’Gorman said.