Police chief: We re beating crime

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan says WA is winning the war on crime. He says there have been falls in almost every major category of offence over the past decade, including burglary, car theft and assaults.

In a wide-ranging interview with _The Weekend West _to mark his 10th anniversary in the top job, Mr O'Callaghan said the public's perception that Perth was a more dangerous city now than it was 10 years ago was wrong and crime statistics showed the level of fear in the community did not match the reality.

The biggest falls were in burglary numbers, which fell about 40 per cent in a decade from more than 60,000 a year to about 35,000.

Robberies fell about 30 per cent, car thefts fell almost 20 per cent and assaults were down about 10 per cent.

WA's population during the same period rocketed from just under two million people in 2003 to nearly 2.5 million last year.

"I feel like we are winning," Mr O'Callaghan said. "We are getting closer to the community, we are having an impact on crime rates, we are getting people to think more about how they can make Perth or WA a better place to live and I think police have been quite influential in driving that change."

Mr O'Callaghan became commissioner on June 21, 2004, at a difficult time for the force having just been through a royal commission into police corruption.

Reflecting on his time in charge, he said he believed the force was now cleaner, leaner and stronger than ever but there were many challenges that still needed to be addressed, including domestic violence, drug abuse and alcohol-fuelled violence.

"What we are seeing is that some of the assaults have become much more significant and much more severe," he said.

University of WA crime researcher Associate Professor David Indermaur said Mr O'Callaghan was right to be proud of the work police had done.

He said police could not take all the credit because crime rates had been falling for many years right around the Western world.

The community's fear of crime was helping to drive the fall because it made people more security conscious.

"One of the biggest success stories here in WA was the introduction of car immobilisers," he said. "Sometimes a simple solution like that makes the biggest difference."

The West Australian

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