PHONE DISCONNECTED: Crime Stoppers calls will be redirected to the Queensland Police Service.
PHONE DISCONNECTED: Crime Stoppers calls will be redirected to the Queensland Police Service. Crime Stoppers Gladstone

Batt launches petition to save Crime Stoppers call centre

POLICE Minister Mark Ryan says it's "business as usual" for crime fighting in Queensland despite the planned closure of the state's Crime Stoppers call centre.

Mr Ryan said that Police Commissioner Ian Stewart had assured him the Queensland Police Service had "sufficient resources" to pick up an additional 1000 calls a week following revelations the call centre would close.

"What some people might have forgotten is that the Crime Stoppers call centre was actually run by the police service until 2015," Mr Ryan said.

"Every other state police service runs Crime Stoppers."

Mr Ryan said the introduction of a charity to run the call centre in 2015 was a "trial" and the State Government had provided substantial financial backing.

But ultimately other states didn't "buy into" the idea and it was "just not viable" for the charity to continue running the centre without buy-in from other states and the Federal Government.

"Unfortunately that did not happen, leading to the Crime Stoppers Queensland independent board deciding the business model for the call centre was no longer viable," he said.

Mr Ryan said the QPS had a long experience running call centre operations for Crime Stoppers and had previously done so for a 30-year period.

Crime Stoppers Queensland CEO Trevor O'Hara said he was disappointed about the closure.

But he said the board had made its decision and unless there was further sustainable funding the centre would close.

He said the contact centre had been instrumental in helping police solve crime.

"Every hour a person is arrested because of the Crime Stoppers program," he said.

Member for Bundaberg David Batt, a former police officer, has launched a petition opposing the closure.

"I am extremely disappointed to hear of the closure of Crime Stoppers in Queensland," Mr Batt said.

"As a former police officer of 23 years, I know first-hand just how vital the work of Crime Stoppers is.

"Our police already work with limited resources and they will now have to find time to answer these phone calls as well.

"Police should be on the beat preventing and fighting crime, not behind a desk answering calls.

"The LNP has always backed Crime Stoppers, we were the first government to give them funding and we promised another $1 million funding boost at the last state election and this Labor Government can't even provide a small amount of funding to protect the closure."

The petition can be accessed via Mr Batt's Facebook page or by clicking here.

Anonymous calls to Crime Stoppers have been crucial in generating leads and even helping solve murders in the past four years.

One tip-off helped police target foster father Rick Thorburn, who murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer in 2015.

Crime Stoppers also received 30 calls about the murder of Gatton schoolgirl Jayde Kendall in 2015.

In 2016, the contact centre was called about the stabbing of a man in Bundaberg.

The information was given to police and a man was later charged with murder.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts suggested people may be deterred from calling Crime Stoppers in future because they may not feel their call is anonymous if it is being answered by police.

Mr Ryan disagreed.

"If you spoke to most people in the street in Queensland, when they say they call Crime Stoppers I bet they say that they think their call is going straight to police in Queensland," Mr Ryan said.

"There are processes in place to ensure people remain anonymous."

Mr Potts said in 2018 Crime Stoppers collected about 20,000 pieces of information from 61,000 people.

As a result about 2000 people were apprehended, $6million worth of drugs was seized and $310,000 worth of stolen property was recovered.

The centre has 22 paid staff and 45 volunteers.



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