Dob in a Dealer campaign at Alexandra Headland between Police and Crime Stoppers.
Dob in a Dealer campaign at Alexandra Headland between Police and Crime Stoppers. John McCutcheon

Cuts to Crime Stoppers could help crooks


ON THE face of it the decision not to fund the Crime Stoppers call centre in Queensland appears pretty short-sighted to me.

The service fields more than 1000 calls a week and in 2018 collected about 20,000 pieces of information from 61,000 people.

The result was 2000 people apprehended, $6 million worth of drugs seized and $310,000 worth of stolen property recovered.

Pretty handy numbers for a charity-operated service.

The organisation had been police-run until 2015, when the charity took over.

But a $250,000 Federal funding cut means 22 paid workers and 45 volunteers are set to lose their positions, with the Crime Stoppers service to be taken over by Queensland Police again.

The service had been independent since 2015, but the 'experiment' as the transfer was called is now over.

The Crime Stoppers board had trialled the centre in Queensland to centralise calls from around the country and help with national government inquiries.

The Queensland Government had stumped up cash to support the service, including $1.75 million over a number of years recently, but a lack of buy-in from other states or the Federal Government had left the service non-viable.

To be fair, most states operate their own Crime Stoppers services, but there are plenty of reservations about the service going back to the police.

For starters, we've been hearing lately about just how under pressure our police service already is.

New recruits are desperately needed and even in the last few weeks we've heard how badly understaffed services including registered sex offender monitoring are at present.

Police Minister Mark Ryan says he's sought assurances by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart that police are resourced well enough to absorb the calls, and that every other state and territory does it.

But the service lost funding in Adelaide a year ago and was not refunded.

It helped solve on average 25 crimes a week.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts was concerned about Crime Stoppers losing its independence.

I tend to agree.

Anonymity has been one of the foundations of Crime Stoppers' ability to field tips which have helped solve serious crimes.

If there is suddenly a perception that ringing Crime Stoppers is the same as ringing the police, rightly or wrongly, I suspect that may cause some people to be less forthcoming with their information.

The Queensland Police Union is demanding an extra 100 officers in every police district across the state.

The fears that this shift will put more pressure on the service, either on frontline or admin staff, or reduce the amount of valuable information flowing to police, are justified.

An explanation of how this won't affect frontline services or slow the flow of information needs to be given.

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