CQ region gets a new police beat and 150 additional police
SEEKING to boost their anti-crime credentials on the eve of the State Election, the Labor Party has announced plans to deploy 150 additional police and a mobile police beat to the Rockhampton region.
The extra police officers would form part of the Queensland Government's planned deployment of an additional 2,025 police personnel across Queensland.
The Rockhampton region would be one of the first to receive a mobile police beat vehicle - one of the 25 being deployed across Queensland.
Standing in front of the Rockhampton Police Station with Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke on Tuesday morning, Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said the historic investment was focused on preventing and disrupting crime while engaging with young people to build on the existing programs in place.
"It's an investment in community safety for the people of Rockhampton and Central Queensland," Mr Ryan said.
"And it's also about more jobs for Queenslanders as we recover from the effects of the pandemic.
"In addition to those minimum 150 police officers for the Central Region, (there will be) more police officers as police liaison officers, more police personnel doing school-based work and more police officers doing early intervention work with other providers."
He said the new police beat vehicle was worth $150,000 and would be fitted out to operate as a mobile police station with an interview desk for witness statements, the ability to provide a safe environment where they can talk confidentially with police, while also providing a visual presence.
The mobile police beat could be deployed anywhere it was needed, including neighbourhoods, events, schools or the crime-plagued Stockland Shopping Centre where local residents had petitioned the Queensland Government to establish a police beat earlier this year.
"The concept of mobile police beats has come from the police service - that's something they want to do and obviously the government is supporting them in that.
"I can't identify any use of this concept anywhere else in Australia. I think it's quite a novel concept that the Police Commissioner's come out with.
"We all know when people see police, they do feel comforted knowing that police are there supporting safety in their community."
The Morning Bulletin understands that only two of the vehicles have been built so far and it would depend upon the Police Commissioner as to when the mobile police beat and the additional 150 officers would be stationed in the Central Region.
Mr Ryan said following Campbell Newman's expansion of the Central Region to include Sunshine Coast, Longreach, and Mackay, the latest investment from his government would see the Central Region return to the normal boundaries early next year, taking in Mackay to Gladstone and out west.
He said the rollout of the mobile police beats would complement his government's five-point youth justice action plan in Rockhampton featuring a co-responder program in which social workers and police officers work together towards early interventions and crime prevention.
"We're receiving some good feedback and strong support from police and youth justice workers on how it's working but also great feedback from the community as they have noticed the impact," he said.
"Other parts of the five-point action plan are having success as well.
"When it comes to tougher action on bail, we made it harder for young recidivist offenders to get out and they are getting remanded (in custody) at a higher rate.
"We've been appealing decisions when we don't think the courts have got the right decision and 100 per cent of the time we've been successful on appeal."
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said the Queensland Police Service was world class and this investment would deliver an even higher level of capability.
"This is one of those game-changing moments where real change can be effected by good government policy," Mr O'Rourke said.
"The important thing about policing is that it's not just about the police or the justice system - it's a partnership that works together for the betterment of the community."
He said it was important that residents all took precautions, such as locking up properly, to limit opportunities for crime.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said the package of investments was a game-changer when it comes to policing in Queensland.
"Not in three decades have we seen an investment in so many extra police," Ms Lauga said.
"And the investment in mobile police beats is a perfect fit with the Queensland Police Service's embrace of a mobile, agile policing philosophy."
Latest crime statistics in Rockhampton since the introduction of the co-responder program
• Latest data for Rockhampton shows there has been a 40 per cent drop in the number of offences by 10 to 17-year-olds
• There has been a 32 per cent drop in the number of youth offenders with at least one charged offence
• In the Rockhampton area 10 per cent of repeat young offenders commit 55 per cent of youth crime - this hard-core 10 per cent is the target of the Palaszczuk Government's Five-Point Plan which includes 24/7 Co-responder strike teams
• Co-responder strike teams include Police, Youth Justice and Non-Government Organisation (NGO) workers in the same patrol car, the strike team's focus on early intervention also includes referrals to Government and NGO agencies for assistance with matters such as health care.
Rockhampton candidates respond to policing announcement
The LNP's candidate for Rockhampton, Tony Hopkins was unimpressed with Labor's announcement saying no one in the region could trust Labor on crime.
Labor is soft on crime, always has been always will be," Mr Hopkins said.
"In Rockhampton, armed robberies are up by 77 per cent, car theft is up 88 per cent and break-ins are up 32 per cent.
"Victims of crime will not be fooled by Labor's pre-elections promises - they know that Labor can't be trusted."
He said the LNP would recruit hundreds of extra police officers across Queensland to protect the community.
"Unlike Labor, we'll back our police up with tougher laws, including an end to Labor's soft youth justice laws that have left police powerless to deal with juvenile offenders," he said.
"The LNP will also introduce a public sex offender register to help families to protect their kids."
One Nation candidate for Rockhampton Torin O'Brien blasted Labor's latest anti-crime plan.
"While I absolutely welcome more police in the region there is certainly an elephant in the room, why two weeks before the election and not in the last two terms of Government when we needed it?" Mr O'Brien asked.
"As we know our correctional facilities are overcrowded and even more importantly our courts are understaffed. In QLD at last count we have around 100 magistrates to deal with hundreds of thousands of crimes a year, an completely unfair task we can't possibly expect them to deal with properly.
"I've spoken to many police on the campaign trail and while we all welcome extra beat cops what's the point of we don't have the courts and jails to deal with it? We are wasting our polices forces hard work when they're just released by the court.
"My personal view is we must do more to prevent it to begin with, there's no point just locking up everyone and costing tax payers millions of dollars housing criminals, we absolutely must introduce better prevention plans on the ground first and foremost.
"To some it up, the numbers are clear on our struggling court system which we must boost up along with jails, the recent Labor announcement is to little to late and just another empty promise at election time "if re-elected" as usual."
Legalise Cannabis Queensland's candidates for Rockhampton Laura Barnard said while additional police and police beats might be necessary now, she believed they were a "poorly placed band aid for the underlying matters contributing to increased crime in our region".
"(There needs to be) housing, mental and physical health care, education for self development and furthering skills necessary to gain employment, support for raising young people," Ms Barnard said.
"Whether this means more of what I've addressed but on a youth basis, or further community consultation to ensure families are aware of the support networks available when they feel the community is pointing blame at them, and in reality they are doing the best they can in the circumstances they are under; referring again to the previously mentioned underlying socio-economic environment within our communities.
"Cannabis related crimes take a massive chunk out of the policing budget, time wise and financial resource wise also. This in itself would issue more police resources to address matters in the public's best interest."
The Greens candidate for Rockhampton Mick Jones said the "tough on crime" rhetoric and promise for more police on the streets from our major parties had not worked to stop crime nor had it stopped people from reoffending.
"We need to address the underlying causes of crime such as poverty, unemployment and disadvantage," Mr Jones said.
"That's why the Greens have a plan to create thousands of jobs for the region through renewable energy; investing in public housing so everyone has a secure home to live in; making education genuinely free so everyone can acquire the skills and knowledge they need to get ahead in life; and ensuring we have universal health care with programs to address mental illness and anti-social behaviour.
"Kids and families who are going through tough times need our support. We can put a roof over their heads, provide fully funded public schools, and make sure kids in need get the nutrition they need to learn, with free breakfast and lunch at public schools.
"We can reinvigorate the local sports clubs by making sure that kids who want to get involved in sports can join in.
"And all of this creates jobs, and will be funded by making billionaires pay their fair share."