Crime is a highly partisan issue it seems, politicised by and for the right.
We began as we always do with asking what crime means to you, and the most common answer had something to do with political spin, followed by corruption or crooked politicians. After those it splintered into people identifying specific types of crimes, or giving literal definitions.
Crime is one of those political footballs which will never stop being kicked around. It is an emotional issue for large chunks of the electorate which will never truly be solved making it a perfect partisan issue.
23 year old voter
When we asked how concerned you were about you or a loved one become a victim of crime, there was a very clear partisan split.
This is certainly one survey where I would dearly love to have a Vote Compass size sample, because from the tiny numbers of respondents, voters for many of the micro-right parties like Australian Liberty Alliance, Katter’s Australian Party or Fraser Anning’s Conservative Nationals also had a higher fear of crime, but United Australia Party voters did not, profiling more like the Labor Party on this issue.
The partisan split, with the micro-right voters being far more reactive on this issue, was also evident when we specifically asked if people believed the ‘African street gang’ claims that have been made by politicians in the last year.
We verified this question with a second ‘answer in your own words’ question specifically relating to Peter Dutton’s claim people were scared to go out at night. The people that were hesitant to answer were largely those that don’t have any connection to Melbourne – but few were buying it, outside of that little group of (further) right wing voters… and as you can see, only 37% of Coalition voters thought the African street gang claims were very accurate, and 27% thought they were mostly or partly wrong.
In response to the ‘going out at night’ question, and another question that specifically asked what kinds of crime respondents were concerned about in their community, there was a slight gender split with women being more concerned about being assaulted and fraud; men more concerned about property crime and drugs.
The type of crime that is used as a beat up (‘african gangs’ or the child sex crime register) I am not worried about; however as the mother of a teenage girl, I am worried about the rate of sexual assault, harassment, sex discrimination, and domestic violence that is tolerated in our society. These are things I cannot necessarily protect my daughter from in her lifetime, and they are way too common.
40 year old female voter
I have been broken into more than a dozen times over the last ten or so years. The area I live in has a youth unemployment rate over the 20% mark – coupled with Meth, the lack of positive job opportunities is the single largest contribution to crime.
54 year old male voter
Do people trust the police? Mostly… with a lot of ‘but’s… mainly around either a perception that the system is bad but individual cops are ok, or vice versa. There were a number of questions raised about the politicisation of the AFP, and a couple of references to having ‘grown up in Queensland’ so of course they don’t (referring to the Joh Bjelke Petersen era).
I trust them to pursue criminals and do their duty. I don’t trust they won’t occasionally abuse their power.
29 year old male voter
Most of the time, but if I were not middle-aged, middle class, anglo, I might have real cause to think otherwise. There is clearly a pervasive racist thread running through parts of law enforcement in Australia. 55 year old female voter
So it seems the majority of voters view the whole issue of crime with a healthy dose of scepticism and aren’t that malleable to over the top fear messages, but are, to some extent, concerned about crime. Does it affect their votes?Nah… except of course it is a factor in people’s votes on the further right.
Thanks as always to our participants. There’s only one more month of surveys to go before the election! Sign up now to take part, and to be able to do any surveys you’ve missed as catch-up surveys.