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SHENANIGANS: Nationals claim regional crime "skyrocketing", "out of control", people "too scared to leave their homes". The statistics say otherwise

March 6, 2024


Stock image.

By Peter Holmes


A claim by MP and former deputy premier Paul Toole that “regional and rural crime has skyrocketed across NSW” has been debunked by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).


Toole - the Bathurst-based National - sent out a media statement blaming the Minns Labor government for the “severe situation”, saying it “continues to ignore the issue”.

Toole, a former police minister, is calling for a parliamentary inquiry into policing in NSW, and blamed police minister Prue Car for the current crime issues.



Paul Toole. Facebook.

“This is a minister who is failing our regional communities by turning a blind eye to what is happening,” Toole said. “Criminal activity is rife in the regions. 


“People are being bashed in their homes, knifed in their driveways and having cars stolen from their garages. A parliamentary inquiry would help to figure out what the core issues are and what our hardworking police need to combat this issue.”


Toole accused Labor of being the party that “sits on its hands” as “crime grows out of control”. 


“We can’t have residents afraid to step out their front door. It’s no way to live and nobody deserves to feel that way. We are seeing violent crimes occur on a regular basis, which is leaving families too scared to leave their homes.” 

The Minns government has been in power for just under a year. The Liberal-National party was in government from March 2011 to March 2023.



Copyright: BOCSAR.

The problem for Toole and his fear mongering statement is that the statistics suggest if people living in the NSW regions are too scared to leave their homes now under Labor, then they must have too scared to leave their homes for a long time under his own Liberal-National government.


When The Orange News Examiner asked Toole for sources to back up his claim that regional crime was "skyrocketing" and "out of control", the response was a bit of a word salad, but included two bits of "data". 





“NSW Country Mayors Association in support with NSW Police Association and NSW Farmers recently revealed that crime, law and order is now in the top five emerging issues for New South Wales with their research showing up to 90% of crimes including vehicle theft, breaking and entering, sexual assault and domestic assault are happening in our regional communities,” Toole said.


The first claim - a suggestion that crime had been listed by persons unknown to be in their top five emerging issues - was anecdotal, without context and of no scientific value, while the second claim - 90 percent of crime happen in the regions - was not just off the mark, but in another postcode.

Toole’s office supplied no detail on overall crime or specific crime categories to show that crime was spiralling out of control in the NSW regions.


The Orange News Examiner took Toole’s claims to BOCSAR and asked if it could verify them. It could not.


“The issue with regional crime is not so much that it is increasing, it is that for many years the rate of crime in Regional NSW has been higher than in Greater Sydney,” said BOCSAR’s executive director Jackie Fitzgerald.


“Property crime has been on a long-term downward trajectory in both Regional NSW and in Greater Sydney. However, the decline has been greater in Greater Sydney.


“Violent crime has also fallen over the long term, but by a lesser margin. Again, the fall in Greater Sydney has been larger than in Regional NSW.”


Copyright: BOCSAR.

For many years - under Labor and the Liberal-Nationals - crime in the regions has been higher on a per capita basis compared to the whole of NSW. 


But Fitzgerald said that “this hasn’t suddenly occurred in 2023 for the first time – it is a long-standing feature of the crime landscape in NSW”. 



Copyright: BOCSAR.

Fitzgerald said one property crime - motor vehicle theft - had increased in Regional NSW over the past five years.


“Car theft rates are still historically low, but in the 12 months to September 2023 Regional NSW recorded 7,246 motor vehicle thefts compared with 6,318 in the 12 months to September 2019 (up 15 percent)." 

Toole was in office for half of the above 2022/23 period, when vehicle thefts were rising.


“For most other property crimes, the number of incidents recorded in Regional NSW in the year to September 2023 was less than the number recorded in the year to September 2019,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Copyright: BOCSAR

She said violent crimes - domestic violence (DV) related assault, sexual assault and non-domestic assault - have increased in Regional NSW in the past five years.


“For DV assault and sexual assault the upward trend started in about 2018.”


Finally, Fitzgerald said “it is not true to say 90 percent of any crime in NSW occurs in Regional NSW”.

“For instance, in the year to September 2023, 55 percent of recorded break ins (dwellings), 47 percent of recorded DV assaults, and 37 percent of robberies occurred outside Greater Sydney.”


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