REVEALED: Surprising southwest knife crime statistics
THE Southwest Police District has been home to some shocking knife-related crimes, such as a teenager who allegedly stabbed a man in broad daylight in Roma, and a 20-year-old man who allegedly wounded a teenager with a knife during a brawl in Dalby.
Statistics acquired by News Corp show the number of knife-related Weapons Act offences committed across the Southwest Police District between October 2019 and September 2020, and the results are surprising.
This district covers Southwest Queensland towns in the South Burnett, Western Downs, Southwest Queensland (Roma, Charleville), and towns further west like Tambo and Longreach.
According to the statistics, released by the Queensland Police Service, Roma had a total of nine knife-related Weapons Act offences over the 12 month period, with two being juvenile offenders.
Charleville patrol group Inspector Wayne Rasmussen said knife crimes across his area are mainly committed by the young male demographic.
“A lot of people think they need to carry a knife for their own self defence or their own fear,” Inspector Rasmussen said.
“Self-defence, fear of others - they’re generally the sort of reasons.”
Despite this, knife crime reported in towns like Charleville and Roma is much lower than other places in Queensland.
Inspector Rasmussen says that in a small community like Charleville, it’s easy to provide education sessions for school kids to educate them about the risks of committing such crimes.
“One of the benefits is working in a smaller station is the connection to the community,” he said.
“It’s somewhat easier to stay on top of the issues in a small town.
“That is one of the real benefits of being in places like Charleville and Cunnamulla, and those kinds of places.”
But Inspector Rasmussen has some frank words for people who choose to carry knives around in public, saying a ‘moment of madness’ can lead to catastrophic consequences.
“Just having possession of a weapon is an offence,” he said, with penalties going as high as a $4400 fine or 12 months imprisonment.
“If it was used to cause grievous bodily harm, or if the police decide the circumstances are attempted murder, you could risk life imprisonment.
“You have an altercation with somebody and you draw a knife, there’s a real possibility they’ll find themselves in a higher court with longer terms of imprisonment.”
But despite the politicisation of youth crime during the 2020 Queensland Election, the frequency of youth knife crime might not be as prevalent as some people had perceived.
Inspector Rasmussen said while these are serious offences, they are not awfully common across Southwest Queensland.
An alarming statistic
Across the entire Southwest Policing District, one area has reported significantly more knife-related offences than any other place, by a long mile.
The Western Downs towns of Dalby and Chinchilla have had 35 and 31 offences respectively over the 12 month period.
And even though Dalby is the largest town in the district, with a population of approximately 13,000, it still has a disproportionate number of offences compared to the slightly smaller town of Kingaroy, which recorded only 19 offences.
Dalby police officer in charge Inspector Terry McCullough said while the reasons the Western Downs has more knife-related charges are unknown, population size definitely plays a part.
“Dalby has had a number of operations in the past year where people are travelling through the division,” Inspector McCullough said.
Dalby police underwent many operations to pull up weapons and ‘criminal enterprises’ along the Warrego Highway, floating the possibility that many of these weapons were seized before making it to Southwest Queensland.
Demographic differences in the Western Downs might also play a part.
“It’s a thing that’s prevalent among members of the drug-using community; they seem to resort to carrying weapons including knives for their perceived need of protection,” Inspector McCullough said.
He also said the larger number of farm residents coming into town with knives may also be a contributing factor.
But knife crime has not been as big of a problem in Dalby as other offences.
“The average person in Dalby that doesn’t mix with drug users or criminals don’t have anything to fear,” he said.
“The average person that wants to carry a knife for personal reasons doesn’t need to be afraid of it.”
Carrying a knife for work, cutting food, or another lawful reason is permitted, but self-defence is not a valid excuse.
“I would warn people that thinking about carrying a knife for protection - it’s illegal to have it but also... the person having the knife increases the likelihood it’s used or someone being killed or injured.”
Knife crime statistics across the Southwest Policing District over the 12 month period of October 2019 - September 2020, as of October 1, 2020:
Bell - 2, one of which was a juvenile offence
Chinchilla - 31, six of which were juvenile offences
Dalby - 35, five of which were juvenile offences
Miles - 2
Peranga - 1
Tara - 4
Wandoan - 1
Blackbutt - 2
Cherbourg - 12, one of which was a juvenile offence
Kingaroy - 19
Murgon - 12
Nanango - 7, one of which was a juvenile offence
Wondai - 1
Charleville - 3, one of which was a juvenile offence
Cunnamulla - 3, one of which was a juvenile offence
Dirranbandi - 1, a juvenile offence
Mitchell - 1
Mungindi - 1
Quilpie - 1
Roma - 9, two of which were juvenile offences
St George - 5
Ilfracombe - 1
Longreach - 7
Tambo - 1
Winton - 1