24 November 2021

Gungahlin the city's safest district although crime rates dropped everywhere during lockdown

| Lottie Twyford
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Gungahlin Town Centre

The rapidly expanding district of Gungahlin had the lowest rates of crime during the recent lockdown. Photo: File.

Canberra’s north might just be the safest place in town, according to the latest ACT Policing crime data.

Over the three months to the end of October, reports of crime, excluding traffic offences, dropped by almost 30 per cent across the Territory. In Gungahlin, reports of crime fell by nearly 40 per cent, making it the safest place in Canberra as measured by reported offences per resident.

Between the beginning of July and the end of September, 7351 offences were reported across Canberra, significantly lower than the 10,074 recorded in the quarter preceding it.

In Gungahlin, there were 961 offences reported in the last quarter, down from 1406.

Reports of assaults and property damage decreased the most, although reports of burglaries remained largely unchanged.

A spokesperson for ACT Policing said a reduction in assaults and property damage could be attributable to the lockdown. Fewer alcohol-fuelled assaults were recorded as licenced premises were closed and more people were in lockdown.

“It is important to note that for many crime types, there are cycles. Factors that can increase these cycles include recidivism, release from prison, and drug addiction. Often, those that are in the grips of drug addiction will do anything to get money to fuel their addiction,” the spokesperson noted.

“Criminals will often look for opportunities to get cash quickly, such as robberies and burglaries. Unfortunately, businesses are often targeted as the offenders believe that cash or goods of value will be on the premises.

“Importantly – the overall crime rate in the ACT is low,” the spokesperson said.

Given the impact of lockdown, the number of traffic infringement notices issued also declined significantly – by more than 50 per cent.

In the last quarter, police issued 851 traffic infringement notices compared to 2033 in the previous one.

The number of people charged with drink driving offences was also down, although not as significantly as the number of infringements issued. A total of 139 people were charged with drink driving offences compared to 239 in the previous quarter.

Road crashes resulting in injury and death both decreased as well.

The ACT Policing spokesperson said infringements issued by Road Policing had fallen as traffic volumes were reduced and officers were diverted to border compliance activities.

At the height of lockdown, 110 police officers were diverted to COVID-19 compliance teams.

During the more than two months of lockdown, ACT Policing received around 2500 calls about suspected breaches of public health orders, although only six arrests were made.

Around 50,000 traffic stops were undertaken during lockdown and more than 600 directions to leave the ACT were issued.

READ ALSO ACT Policing’s phased takeover of Gungahlin’s Joint Emergency Services Centre to begin in 2022

The picture around domestic violence is less clear, however.

While it looks as though the number of reported incidents decreased, there has been some evidence that there has been a spike in demand for domestic violence services.

It’s believed the difficulty of escaping a dangerous place for somewhere safe during lockdown was heightened.

Health authorities and senior government ministers repeatedly reminded the community that lockdown did not apply to anyone whose safety was put at risk by staying at home.

The spokesperson for ACT Policing noted they had heard anecdotal reports of support agencies receiving increased reports of domestic or family violence-related incidents.

“We continue to encourage anyone experiencing family violence to contact police,” they said.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline 13 11 14. In an emergency call 000.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on Riotact.

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