Challenge for police to adapt to ‘new-age’ crime methods

THE challenges that face modern policing have been laid bare in figures obtaining by The Courier regarding “cleared crime” in the Ballarat district.

A significant number of unsolved burglaries – 84 out of 752 reports – will provide little comfort to residents and business owners in the city that those who break the law will be caught and punished. 

That news is balanced by figures in other areas, such as drug offences, where police have been particularly effective. The media is often criticised for having too close a focus on the actions of perpetrators and what’s wrong rather than the successes of authorities in maintaining and improving community safety. 

Yet also, it is often only through media exposure that criminals are identified and caught.  

In the context of the latest figures, possibly most interesting is the suggestions that criminals are “learning” the trade by new means. The explosion in television documentary and reality-based crime programming is being suggested as educating crooks to be smarter. 

The depth of detail easily accessible online – just do a Google search for yourself – provides far too much detail for wannabes.

It’s symbolic of an age and time where policing is changing and adapting to the trends in society generally.

It also raises the question of what can be done to ensure authorities maintain the upper hand.

Resourcing remains the number one issue. Investment from the state government in placing more police on the beat is paying off – the situation in Ballarat has improved since 2010.

But issues such as domestic violence are a focus, as is drugs, community safety and driving behaviour  to name a few.

Prioritising resources is challenging.

The focus on new methods of tracking offenders, or identifying risk and prevention of crime must be continually reviewed to keep one step ahead of the criminal elements which exist not only in Ballarat but every town and city.

It’s also going to need the continued support and assistance of the community – because a strong approach and culture around safety is a more powerful weapon than any website or television series.

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