It was revealed today that The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), an official agency which collects and uses data to back up the allocation of police resources at events like music festivals, was using incorrectly reported statistics for the past 7 years. This boils down to more than 85,000 drug crimes reported that never actually happened.
The bung reporting was due to the way NSW Police record drug-related incidents – noting one for an initial search and another for actually finding drugs – which saw the official figures for NSW drug crimes inflated by 25 per cent in 2017 alone. More than 13,000 reported incidents last year didn’t happen, they were simply two reports of the same thing.
According to BOCSAR, it wasn’t aware of this procedure and has since adjusted the data. After the numbers are crunched, we’re left with a staggering 85,805 drug-related reports that never happened, which is worrying considering this data is used to implement and justify drug policy.
“Both Labor and the Liberals rely on this data to justify giving more resources to police for their failing war on drugs,” Greens MP David Shoebridge told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “This produces policies like the NSW drug dog program, taking resources away from more important work like addressing horrifying levels of family violence.”
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman told ABC News that “The Government does not apologise for taking a tough stance on illegal drugs,” so it doesn’t look like anything’s going to change anytime soon, even with accurate stats, something Shoebridge is similarly pessimistic about.
“If our drug laws were evidence-based we would [see a change], but this is NSW so probably not,” he said. “They’ll just find another way to justify the failing war on drugs.”
It would certainly be nice to see a shift towards harm reduction for a change, so hopefully, this correction plays some small role in that moving forward.