Criminal Offending Reaches 20-Year High in Queensland

There were a total of 603,321 criminal offences in 2023, or over 50,000 incidents a month.
Criminal Offending Reaches 20-Year High in Queensland
Police attend the scene of a multiple stabbing in Cairns, Australia, on Dec. 19, 2014. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Alfred Bui

The number of criminal offences in Queensland has reached a record high in the past two decades, as the state saw a significant increase in severe forms of crime in 2023.

New data from Queensland police indicated that there were a total of 603,321 criminal offences in 2023, or over 50,000 incidents a month.

This figure represented a 7.3 percent increase compared to the previous year and was much higher than the average rate of below 500,000 since 2001.

Serious forms of offences such as assaults, sexual harassment, robbery, arson, unlawful entry, and stolen vehicles all rose during the year.

Specifically, there were 20,211 cases of unlawful use of a vehicle and 147,074 incidents of unlawful entry, causing both categories to reach their highest record since the pre-2001 period.

Sexual offences climbed from 9,627 in 2022 to 10,314 in 2023, continuing an upward trend since 2019.

Similarly, assaults rose 11.2 percent to 57,654 in 2023, following a 31 percent jump in 2022 and a 49.5 percent surge in 2021.

Robbery and arson also increased by 16.4 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively, while the number of murders and drug offences dropped by 11.1 percent and 0.4 percent.

Among the regions, only the far north recorded a fall in criminal offences in 2023.

Queensland Premier Says Crimes Are Not Worsening

Despite the rise in the number of criminal offences, Queensland Premier Steven Miles said the crime situation was not worsening in the state as there had been changes to the way data was recorded.

During a press conference, the premier said it was not “accurate” to take the overall number and interpret it in the way that some people had.

“There have been changes in the way those statistics are collected to include domestic violence offences that weren’t included in the past,” he told reporters.

“We’ve also created a range of new offences with our tough new laws, and that has resulted in additional charges being laid.

“So, it’s not a simple measure of going from that number and inferring from that there has been an increase in crime.”

Mr. Miles also said his government had recruited around 1,600 new police officers to tackle crimes in the state.

“That is resulting in an increasing number of reports of crime and an increasing number of arrests. We want them to do that,” he said.

“That is a good thing because that is what we employ our police to do, to keep people safe, to take reports of crime, investigate them and arrest offenders with the maximum number of offences that have occurred.”

Meanwhile, Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Chelepy pointed out that Queensland’s overall crime rate had actually decreased in the past two decades amid significant population growth.

While the crime rate rose from 9,689 per 100,000 population in 2021 to 11,121 per 100,000 in 2023, it was still lower than the 2001 rate of 12,578 per 100,000.

Nevertheless, the deputy commissioner acknowledged that the rising perception of crime among the state residents was an issue.

“Even if we had a decrease in crime stats, but the community still felt unsafe, I don’t see that as a success,” he said, as reported by ABC News.

“I take the view that if the community is feeling unsafe in their home. We’ve got more work to do.”

Police attend the scene of a multiple stabbing in Cairns, Australia, on Dec. 19, 2014. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Police attend the scene of a multiple stabbing in Cairns, Australia, on Dec. 19, 2014. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Opposition’s Strong Criticism

Pointing to the crime data, state Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said there was a victim behind every offence, and that crime was getting worse in the state.

Mr. Crisafulli said a generation of recidivist offenders was inflicting damage on communities and alleged that the Labor party would change youth crime laws if it were re-elected at the state election this year.

“A generation of untouchables have been created,” he told reporters.

“A generation who know that their rights outweigh the rights of everyday Queenslanders, a generation that conducts themselves without any fear of the law.”

The opposition leader also blamed the rise of offences on the state’s “weak” criminal laws.

“There was a time when offenders tried to hide their face and run away from the law,” he said.

“Now they post their face online, and they run at police because of weak laws.”

Mr. Crisafulli’s remarks come after police arrested four teenagers in Brisbane on Jan. 6 for allegedly stealing a car while broadcasting the whole incident on social media.

The police said the teenagers did not steal the car for personal benefits but to livestream and obtain notoriety.

Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne and focuses on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and has two master’s degrees in business and business law. Contact him at [email protected].
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