Figures released today by the federal Department of Justice show that knife crime has jumped by almost 15% since 2016. Homicides involving bladed weapons has also increased from 4.5 per one million of population, to 4.75 per million.

The figures will be a disappointment to the Democratic Left administration who had promised upon entering government that they would make a strong effort at tackling knife crime. Despite a dedicated unit in the Crime Prevention Office of the Sanctarian Federal Police, rural towns and communities with less than 25,000 inhabitants are the only demographics that have shown a decline in knife crime.

Commissioner David ‘Jock’ McGrath of the Sanctarian Federal Police said he is “disappointed” with the numbers but said that “the dedicated officers within the Sanctarian Federal Police have been doing their best to keep knives and knife crime off our streets”. With the federalisation of the police forces officially coming into play when the new state governments take office in January 2020, such crime prevention measures will fall to the new police forces.

Justice Secretary Eric Hill has so far resisted efforts by some opposition parties, in particular the Green and Christian Union parties, to make any crime with a knife a federal crime as “99% of crimes will be handed by the states’ polices forces, and rightly so” but he did say that “the Sanctarian Federal Police will always be available to lend support in knife crime prevention when requested”.

Shane Thompson, the SCP spokesperson for Justice, has said what “while [he] agrees with Secretary Hill that combating knife crime should remain a state matter”, he believes that “it is a DLP ploy to hand off responsibility when they took their eyes off the ball”. He criticised Hill and SFP Commissioner McGrath for not tackling the rising knife crime more satisfactorily.

Commissioner McGrath officially retires from the SFP on December 31st of this year. He will be replaced by a new position, Director of the Sanctarian Federal Police, on January 1st. The Government has not yet nominated anyone, but it’s believed that knife crime will more certainly be one of the topics the nominee will face before the Senate’s Justice Committee.

Adam King
Crime & Justice Correspondent