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No, you are not Imagining it; Property Crime has been on the Increase in Queensland over the Past Five Years,  by Dr Marcus Smith

With this my first article for the Brisbane West Chamber of Commerce, I thought I would discuss a salient topic that will undoubtedly be a key consideration in the minds of many Queensland voters when they cast their ballots at the state election on October 31.

That is, of course, the issue of crime in Queensland at present.

While a dated report, in 2011 the cost of crime in Australia was estimated at approximately $23.1 billion and when combined with the costs of criminal justice, victim assistance, security, insurance and household precautions the total estimated cost of crime to the community rose to $47.6 billion.

Taking inflation into account, that estimate is equivalent to around $55.4 billion in today’s dollar terms.

Crime is not only distressing for its victims, but it is also bad for business.

Property rights are the foundation of strong and thriving economy and failing to provide adequate security of property rights removes the incentive for businesses to take risks and generate wealth that provides employment opportunities for the benefit of the society.

As James Madison the fourth President of the United States once said: “The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which government was instituted”.

On Wednesday, 16th September the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its annual national statistics about victims of crime as recorded by police showing that the rate of crime in Queensland increased significantly across a number of offences between 2015 to 2019.

While population increased by 6.6% in Queensland over 2015 to 2019, the rate of robberies per 100,000 persons increased by 78.1%, the rate of motor vehicle theft increased by 58.2%, the rate of other theft increased by 29.9%, and the rate of unlawful entry with intent increased by 21%.

This compares with national figures that include Queensland showing population growth of 6.5%, where the rate of robberies per 100,000 persons increased by 23.3%, the rate of motor vehicle theft increased by 5.8%, the rate of other theft increased by 4.9%, and the rate of unlawful entry with intent actually decreased by 11.5%.

With comparative statistics such as these it is not surprising that crime has become an incendiary issue in Queensland, particularly in many regional centres of the state.

For the incumbent Palaszczuk Government, the issue of crime has become a major issue in not just Regional Queensland but in the South East corner.

The government has announced it pre-election commitment to employ an additional 2,025 police officers, which will take the total number of full-time equivalent police to around 17,300 from current levels.

The opposition Liberal National Party have pointed to a softening of law and order legislation introduced over the term of the Palaszczuk Government and highlighted the crime rate when the LNP previously occupied the treasury benches.

Over the three years in office between 2012 and 2014, per 100,000 population the rate of robberies declined by 34.3%, motor vehicle theft fell by 26.9%, other theft fell by 11.7%, and unlawful entry with intent fell by 29.5%.

An economy in recession and the winding down of federal government income support measures in coming weeks serves as a portent for the increased likelihood of incidences of crime to escalate as times get tougher, particularly if business conditions along with the state’s jobs market do not improve.

Whichever party forms government after the plebiscite will not just need to get serious about implementing an effective strategy to reduce property crime in the state, it will also be faced with the mammoth task of growing the economy and improving business conditions in the state.

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