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How to cut Australia’s $48 billion crime bill

Rick Sarre writes in The Conversation (14.3.17) that government spending on crime prevention needs to be redirected to programs and policies that the research tells us are most effective.

‘Crime costs Australia almost A$48 billion per year. In anyone’s language, that is a public cost that needs to be addressed urgently. Fortunately, we now have an abundance of research findings that tell us how we can do that.

‘It is disappointing that there has not been any decrease in the use of expensive traditional crime control measures offered by formal justice systems. Governments continue to hire more police. Parliaments are directing courts to increase sentences. As a result, our prisons are being pushed to the limit.

‘At the same time, most crime is declining across the nation. Although it is tempting, we need to be careful not to overstate any connection between the fall in crime and punitive populism.

‘Formal criminal justice processes, necessary as they may be, are a blunt instrument in the fight against crime. Most processes are simply pushing today’s problems into the path of future generations.’

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