Regarding the recent ABC article entitled "Geraldton Mayor says mid-west city's crime 'hot spot' reputation unjustified"
City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Ian Carpenter was recently quoted by the ABC as saying crime statistics in Geraldton are "no worse than anywhere else." (Click here to read.) Mayor Carpenter acknowledged crime was high, but didn't think Geraldton was much worse off than other locations.
Police also stated at the recent crime forum that burglary rates in Geraldton were "not out of step with other regional centres," according to the ABC article.
But do the statistics actually show this to be true?
We agree with the Mayor's premise, inasmuch as what Geraldton has to offer as a fantastic place to live significantly outweighs the negatives, specifically the recent uptick in burglaries.
But is crime higher in Geraldton than in other regional centres?
Relying on what the media reports on to get a sense for crime levels is an unreliable barometer of what's actually happening. And with the rise of social media and the ability people now have to easily share news, it's logical to question whether crime is actually increasing or if we're simply exposed to more news about crime.
So we decided to do our own research.
We measured the number of dwellings across the suburbs in the major regional centres of Western Australia using the latest Census data. The latest available data is from 2011. We then measured the Burglaries for Dwellings in each of those suburbs using data supplied by the Western Australian Police, over the 12 month period from June 2014 to May 2015 inclusive.
Dividing the number of Burglaries (of dwellings) by the number of Dwellings gives us a percentage score for each suburb. The lower the number, the better.
The results show that the burglary rate in Geraldton is very high compared to any other regional city. The regional city we measured with the next highest burglary rate was Broome, which was still substantially safer than Geraldton.
Geraldton's burglary rate is 42% higher than Broome's.
Geraldton's burglary rate is 147% higher than Kalgoorlie's.
Geraldton's burglary rate is 713% higher than Busselton's.
Mayor's statement: "We try and counteract those sorts of statistics by saying yes, they're right, and they are, but they're no worse than anywhere else. Maybe at times we have spikes in certain types of crimes but you get the same thing in other communities as well. So I don't think that we're much worse off but I still acknowledge that it is a problem."
The mayor stated that he acknowledges the statistics are correct about the rise in crime in Geraldton. We believe he is aware of the increase in burglaries in Geraldton, and he also said that he acknowledges that it is a problem. Based on the available data, we do not agree with the part of the Mayor's statement that said that Geraldton is "no worse than anywhere else."
Here are the burglary rates for the major regional centres we measured.
7.89 burglaries per 100 dwellings
3.19 burglaries per 100 dwellings
2.72 burglaries per 100 dwellings
2.6 burglaries per 100 dwellings
2.91 burglaries per 100 dwellings
0.97 burglaries per 100 dwellings
1.94 burglaries per 100 dwellings
5.55 burglaries per 100 dwellings
4.57 burglaries per 100 dwellings
How do the figures compare to Perth suburbs?
We measured some of the Perth suburbs with the highest burglary rates. They are available on the downloadable PDF. We could not find a Perth suburb with a higher burglary rate than the Geraldton average.
Are burglaries increasing everywhere else too?
According to the ABC, "Police maintain Geraldton's crime rate experiences spikes in burglary and drug-related arrests but is not out of step with other regional centres."
So is that true? Is the increase in burglaries in step with other regional centres?
We checked recent burglary data as provided by WA Police and have published the graph below.
The graph above shows Burglaries of Dwellings for the regional districts in WA. Note the 14/15 data does not include June 2015. Final 14/15 figures will be higher when June data becomes available.
Note the green line... that's the Mid West. It certainly seems to be out of step with the other regional centres with regards to home burglaries.
Based on the available data, we do not agree with the Police statement that Geraldton is not out of step. This data shows the Mid West is very much out of step with the rest of WA, with no other regional Police district experiencing anything close to the percentage increase in burglaries that the Mid West has seen over the last two years.
So what's going to be done about this crime issue?
While this article addresses quotes made by the City of Greater Geraldton Mayor, we do not believe the rising burglary rate ultimately falls under the responsibility of local government or the Mayor.
Stay tuned for our followup article on the rising burglary rates in Geraldton and which politician we believe is actually to blame.