NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller is worried that the economic hardship induced by the coronavirus will unleash a crime wave.
The Commissioner stated that the NSW Police were preparing for a surge in crime if job losses persist.
“We have been doing an enormous amount of work with government looking back at the 1990 recession, because there is some similarities around unemployment numbers and the drop in GDP and progressively, probably 18 months to two years after that recession, crime went through the roof,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Fuller also stated that he was monitoring the effect of JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments and their withdrawal.
Crime rates and the unemployment rate
In the 1990s recession, GDP fell by 1.7 per cent and unemployment rose to 10.8 per cent. The number of crimes between 1990 and 2000 increased significantly according to data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).
Break and enters rose from 58,862 to 81,650, and robberies without a weapon rose from 3022 to 6894.
Since 2000, crime rates have improved or remained stable.
Former director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research Professor Don Weatherburn, cautions that the effect of economic hardship on crime is complex.
“When things go bad, whatever is going up at the time will go up faster,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“At the moment, the big growth areas are fraud and drug dealing.”
The unemployment rate in NSW in July this year was 7.2 per cent, a figure that hasn’t been reached since November of 1998.
A need to increase financial security
Increasing newstart could boost the economy by $4 billion, create 12,000 additional jobs, reduce inequality, support women, boost wages and corporate profits and increase tax revenue, according to the Director of Research at the ANU’s Asian Bureau of Economic Research Adam Triggs.
The policy for the increase of newstart is only 0.6 per sent of the federal budget.
“Newstart is the main income support payment for people who are unemployed. Compared to the age pension, disability support payments, the minimum wage and average wages, it has shrunk dramatically over the past 25 years,” Triggs said in an article in the Canberra Times back in January.
“The economists at Deloitte Access Economics estimate that, even with these offsetting effects, increasing Newstart by a meagre $75 per week (ANU modelling suggests $100 would be optimal) would boost GDP by $4 billion and create an additional 12,000 jobs by 2021. They show that the benefits disproportionately flow to regional and remote communities (given that’s where most Newstart recipients live) and would boost wages, corporate profits and government coffers through the increase in demand in the economy.”
When 45 of Australia’s top economists were asked whether Jobseeker (formerly NewStart) should increase after the COVID-19 supplement ends, 91.2 per cent of them stated it needs to increase. The majority of those stated that it should be increased by $100-$150 per week.
Among these economists are former and current government advisers, former members of the Reserve Bank and a former member of the Fair Work Commission’s minimum wage panel.
An increase of $150 a week would bring the payments at about 50 per cent of median income.
Labour market specialist Sue Richardson told the ABC that keeping payments so low that people lost dignity and hope and suffered material deprivation hurt not only the people who were unemployed, but also the thousands of children who grew up in their households.
She knew of no evidence that suggested a low rate of JobSeeker increased the likelihood of an unemployed person getting a job.