Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Victorian police - a waste of resources

Even the most free market minded individuals, and fierce critics of large government, often draw the line at the industry for law enforcement, police and security. These are core roles that a vast majority of people believe are best left in the hands of the state. I also count myself as a supporter of government run police forces, rather than private security agencies, but I am not at all skeptical about a hypothetical world where private security firms are able to provide better outcomes using less resources.

Still, for the moment, police, prisons and law enforcement should be run by the government to ensure every single individual has their core rights (property, life, liberty) upheld.

Unfortunately for the bureaucrats in charge of the state of Victoria, the allocation of resources and the prioritisation of police efforts is dismal according to this report.

ALMOST half of Victorians convicted of serious crimes escape jail, an audit of sentencing shows.

The "soft approach" is underscored by Victorian courts jailing far fewer criminals than the national average.
Some of the figures below:
OF 414 individuals convicted of sex offences in all Victorian courts in the same period, 194 were jailed.

ALMOST 40 per cent of serious drug offenders walked free.

ONE in four people convicted of robbery offences escaped with a suspended or non-custodial sentence.

FORTY-ONE per cent of people involved in an abduction-related crime and 44 per cent convicted of deception served immediate prison time.
Other than the drug offenders category, which is really rather foolish to criminalise in the first place seeing as drug offenders do not violate anybody else's rights, the other categories are serious crimes that do indeed violate others basic rights and should be the primary focus of law enforcement and punishment.

Another part of the problem seems to be the Victoria police being unwilling to allocate much effort towards fighting serious crime. I wonder what is meant below when they refer to "community assistance, guidance and leadership" ? Since when is it the role of police to engage in these airy-fairy feel-good activities ?
The website states: "Since Victoria Police first began providing police services in 1853, its role has expanded from one focused primarily on law enforcement, to one of community assistance, guidance and leadership.

"Only about 20 per cent of police work is directly related to fighting crime."

Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman Murray Thompson said the statement represented "an extraordinary admission".

"Maybe some piccolo players from the police band could change their tune and start catching crooks," he said.

Police Association secretary Paul Mullett said at least 80 per cent of policing work should involve fighting crime.
Actually, reading further in the article reveals exactly what kind of wishy washy progressive efforts are being made by police:
Asked about the website statement, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said: "A large part of our role includes targeting community needs such as road safety, promoting and maintaining harmonious relationships within Victoria's diverse community, identifying crime and safety issues and establishing effective solutions.
Seeing as we live in the era of Bracks, the supreme bureaucrat who has doubled the number of public servants and massively increased regulations and legislation, this should come as no surprise:
"Police are not out there preventing street crime from occurring," he said. "Patrolling is not happening. It is not an issue of police numbers, it is where and how they are deployed."

He said too much time was now spent preparing data, filling in forms and meeting increasingly convoluted demands relating to briefs of evidence.

"Some general duties police are becoming little more than data entry clerks," Mr Mullett said.