By ERWIN CHLANDA
The public is getting the mushroom treatment about crimes in December, the first of two months when offending peaks each year.
Neither the police nor Families Minister Dale Wakefield will release details. This is despite her putting in place – and paying for them with public funds, of course – a string of initiatives which warrant evaluation.
In recent weeks these included, according to Ms Wakefield’s media statements:–
• “Nine Senior Youth Outreach and Re-engagement Officers (YOREOs) with new and expanded responsibilities [who] have graduated from training today [December 14] and will join the Youth Outreach and Re-engagement Teams (YORET), as part of the Territory Labor Government’s overhaul of the broken youth justice system.”
• Re-instatement of the Tangentyere Day Patrol.
• Launching the Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Reduction Framework 2018-2028.
• Launching a “Reform Management Office (RMO) … to co-ordinate reform across government and non-government sectors ahead of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT report”.
• These changes create new statutory positions of Community Youth Justice Officers, who will become part of the recently created Youth Outreach and Re-Engagement teams.
We emailed Ms Wakefield and the police on New Year’s Day at 7.30am. We still do not have any replies containing the information we’re asking for.
We said: “Could you please provide the following details for Alice Springs, December 2016 and 2017, respectively, or similar statistics, plus a best guess of how many of these alleged offences were committed by juveniles: The number of reports made to the police about assault; break & enter into homes; break & enter into businesses; vehicles stolen; rocks thrown at vehicles; theft and property damage.”
The police responded this would “take some time to collate / research and some details requested may not be recorded as stated”.
We had specifically requested “similar statistics” as an alternative. This response raises the question whether police have any processed information at all which it could use during the normally incendiary January.
Ms Wakefield, responsible for providing care for children in need, has still not given us any response.
A ministerial advisor has told us the information is usually compiled by the Justice Department which normally provides it some six weeks after the end of the survey month.
This means we can expect the December figures in mid-February.
This leaves the public to rely on social media reports, occasionally formulated in gutter language and hardly a a reliable source.
Social media observers say that there has not been a lot of web traffic on the subject, which may indicate the summer crime problem is less severe than last year.
However, there were web posts in December almost daily about stolen cars and break-ins into homes in search of car keys.
UPDATE 12 noon
Minsister Wakefield issued a media release this morning, detailing expenditure, containing the following. It did not include answers to our questions.
We are well on track with reforming the youth justice system and implementing the recommendation of the Royal Commission report:
• Invested $18.2 million in youth diversion (doubling the previous budget for youth diversion).
• YOREOs are in place in each regional centre – working with young people and their families – keeping kids on track before crime happens and preventing kids when they go off track from reoffending.
• Youth activity and after hours coordinators and after hour plans are in place in Alice Springs and Palmerston.
• Expanded youth victim conferencing.
• Bail support accommodation has commenced in Alice Springs with further beds to open in the near future in both Alice Springs and Darwin.
By ERWIN CHLANDA