Law Society Welcomes Independent Crime Stats

QLS president Christine Smyth

Queensland’s peak solicitor group has welcomed a $2.7 million commitment from the State Government to fund a new independent body to collect crime statistics.

Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth said the Society had campaigned strongly for the funding of a proposed Crime Statistics and Research Unit (CSRU).

“We congratulate the government on its commitment to create a new and independent criminal statistics research unit,” Ms Smyth said on Friday.

Ms Smyth’s comments follow Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath’s announcement last Thursday that funding had been budgeted this financial year to establish the CSRU in the independent statutory office of the Queensland Government Statistician.

“Understanding crime statistics, offending behaviour and the impact of policies and programs on offending behaviour is key to developing effective policy,” Ms D’Ath said.

“The CSRU must be independent and transparent in order to have the trust and confidence of the Queensland public.”

Until now, crime statistics have been collected by the Queensland Police Service.

A scathing report by the Queensland Audit Office in April that found police were fudging their figures to keep a lid on crime rates, which meant “reported crime statistics are questionable at best and unreliable at worst, and should be treated with caution”.

Ms Smyth said it was hoped the CSRU would be analogous to the NSW Bureau of Crime and Statistics.

“We hope the CSRU will produce reliable data and analysis which will allow policy makers and legislators to employ evidenced based policy making when forming policy and legislation,” Ms Smyth said.

“It is envisaged this will curtail reactionary policy or ‘policy on the run’ that is developed as a result of capricious and often unreliable media coverage of heinous crimes.”

“A perfect example was the swift introduction of unworkable and harsh anti-association legislation enacted as a knee-jerk response to a spike in so-called bikie related crimes several years ago.

“We would expect data collected by the CSRU will prevent similar events as this occurring in the future.”

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