The impact of operational performance reviews on reported crime in Queensland

Crime Australia Queensland
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This paper is important for three reasons. The first is that it evaluates the impact of a significant change in the strategic management of police focused on driving down recorded crime rates. The second is that it highlights the continued professionalisation of policing in the willingness of Queensland Police Service (QPS) to contribute to the peer reviewed evidence or knowledge base on what works and what doesn't. Third, it highlights what can be achieved through a successful collaboration between researchers and practitioners. The paper by Lorraine Mazerolle, Sacha Rombouts and James McBroom, finds that Operational Performance Reviews (OPRs) had a significant impact in reducing certain crime categories in some Queensland police districts. The effects were large enough to influence the overall decline in crime and the initiative resulted in savings to the community. These findings will result in some debate as there are always limitations to social science data and often competing explanations. In this case, the observed declines occurred at the same time as recorded crime had been dropping across the nation and other factors such as the impact of changing illegal drug markets and incapacitation effects, might also have contributed to the change. Unfortunately, longitudinal data on these events at the level of police districts are lacking. This paper highlights what can be done with existing data sources and sophisticated statistical analysis. However, significant investment in building long-term linked small area data including crime and other social indicators, and making that data widely available for research, would ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the $7.2 billion that is spent on criminal justice each year in Australia.

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