Shockingly, it's the same old failed nonsense from the QPS and shows that they've already rolled Can-Do Campbell and his get-tough police minister, Jack Dempsey. Dempsey in fact made the statement this morning that "putting people in jail is a waste of taxpayer money". I don't think the taxpayers in Cairns feel that way. Is this "zero tolerance"??
Crime fighting "by blitz" is inefficient and ineffective long-term. It's used by the QPS as a public relations tool in a misguided attempt to convince the public they're "on the job". In many cases, with these "blitz teams" flown in and out from Brissy, they're seen by the coppers as a break from their usual jobs, a paid break paid for by the state government. Crime fighting needs to be consistent and intensive, no on-and-off PR efforts. We've been told this FIFO police job, costing $500,000 in taxpayer dosh for flights, accommodation, overtime, and other support resources brings in cops who don't know the community, don't know the crims, don't know the paths and back alleys used by the kids to elude their capture. They have almost zero community understanding.
This is an abuse of the concept of "Zero Tolerence". It's more like "Less Tolerance for a While". The crims put their head down for a few weeks, and then it's business as usual.
Campbell Newman promised "across the board structural overhaul" of the Queensland Government. But he's now shown that he doesn't have the cajones to take on the QPS management, despite their abject failure in places like Cairns and the Gold Coast. Instead of looking at a comprehensive overhaul of how policing works in our state, the QPS is "untouchable". And now Cairns is set to be the victim of this failed QPS management.
Any policing authority will tell you that the best crime fighting is when the community is engaged with the police in the process. That's why "Neighbourhood Watch" programs are used worldwide by police departments. The use of "Neighbourhood Watch" programs in Cairns however has always been minimal, with virtually no support for the public in establishing and running these programs. This was not due to any lack of desire for functioning Neighbourhood Watch programs in Cairns. These programs only work however when the police and citizens have full two-way information and engagement. However the culture of the QPS, long entrenched, tends to keep crime information "secret" - a significant shortcoming that renders Neighbourhood Watch groups ineffectual. If the public doesn't know what's going on, they can't watch for it! So far, the renewed emphasis on this strategy, being managed by Trouty for Barron River, has the same structural flaw. Without changes in police secrecy, these new groups are as doomed to failure as the older ones.
The best way for the public to be engaged is when they know about incidents in their local area, and be on their guard. In most areas of the US and UK, for example, newspapers publish a daily "crime blotter" that details the calls for service received by the police, the location of crimes, the description of suspects, and other relevant details. These crime reports, some detailed with maps showing "hot spots" in a community, are now being aggregated on websites like CRIME REPORTS. However the QPS policy is to block this daily information from the public and the newspapers. When arrests are made, the public has the right to know WHO has been arrested at that time, but in many cases the names are blocked from publication by the QPS. In many parts of Queensland, the use of new digital radios with encryption has blocked the public and much of the media from even monitoring police calls. Secrecy is the order of the day at the QPS, to the detriment of the public.
Local Cairns self-appointed crimewatcher Barry Neale has weighed in on the issue of police being attacked by the public, claiming that fixed-penalty sentences for attacking police will fix the problem. Campbell Newman has refused this solution, instead offering an increase in maximum sentence as a sop to the community.
Newman and his LNP government are faced with the same financial challenge in crime fighting that all governments face. The most essential component of crime fighting isn't arrest and prosecution, it's PUNISHMENT. And with a judiciary that is essentially a government department and not independent like in the UK or US, the judges ultimately hand down sentences based on the willingness of the government to pay the cost of punishment. Incarceration levels for Australian criminals is said to be fully 1/3 or less the time given to offenders in other western countries. Even convictions for violent crimes; robberies with weapons, street attacks, assaults, and sex crimes get offenders "time served" while waiting for trial and immediate parole. This because the judges have been given guidelines by the Minister as to how many "openings" are available in jails each month.
The "LNP Line" during the recent election was that "liberal judges" were responsible for the large number of criminals being returned to the streets. This is nonsense. The government of the day has the sentencing fully in their control via their control of the budget.
With Campbell Newman already advising that budget cuts to the prison system are in order, this makes this week's "Operation Escalate" a useless exercise in public relations. Even Ian Leavers, head of the police union, has been rolled by the promise of more union members. Clearly no interest in actual positive outcomes.
You're not fooling anyone, Gavin King. You've been rolled again, along with your boss. The QPS has again shown that they're beyond reform, beyond restructure, and running like the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. Why are the politicians afraid of tackling the problems at QPS??
If this LNP government was serious about community-based policing and zero tolerance, the whole operation would get a restructure similar to what's being done with the hospitals, the heart of which is LOCAL CONTROL. A restructure is more than changing the silly LNP plan to change the name from "service" to "force". Police need to be under local control - ideally in districts under the supervision of regional councils, who are the people's representatives. Currently police management in regional areas is a revolving door, with management-oriented police "doing time" in regional areas with little interest in our community, long term. In the time Cairns has had four police commissioners, cities and counties around the world have had the same police management for decades. The king of zero tolerance in Arizona USA, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has been in elected office over 20 years. In Japan, police routinely work in the same police box (Konban) their entire career. That's how a community-based system works, not a department where coppers come and go thru a revolving door, learning nothing about the community for which they serve. Some Cairns police can't locate an address without a GPS. Pathetic.
Likewise, reforms in the judiciary making them truly independent from the government of the day would allow them to make independent sentencing decisions not dictated by budgetary considerations. In many locales around the world, judges are subject to election by the public - a little more democracy in our system around the judiciary wouldn't hurt, either.
Sadly, the bluster and big talk by the LNP and Gavin King during the election have proven to be a fraud. All they're prepared to do is PR exercises under the guise of crime fighting. It's bullshit. Don't be fooled. The LNP has shown they've got no plan for reform.