SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE, $757,567,000
ADMINISTERED ITEMS FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE, $177,000
Mr Wingard substituted for Mr Goldsworthy.
Mr Gardner substituted for Mr McFetridge.
Hon. A. Piccolo, Minister for Disabilities, Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety.
Mr G. Stevens, Commissioner of Police, South Australia Police.
Mr D. Patriarca, Director, Business Services, South Australia Police.
Mr I. Hartmann, Manager, Financial Management, South Australia Police.
Mr F. Principe, Assistant Business Service Manager, South Australia Police.
Mr N. Lombardi, Chief of Staff.
The CHAIR: Welcome to the Minister for Police and his advisers. I declare the proposed payments open for examination and refer members to the portfolio statements, Volume 3. I now call on the Minister for Police to make a statement, if he wishes, and to introduce his advisers.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I would like to welcome the Commissioner of Police, Grant Stevens. If I remember correctly, Mr Stevens was actually here next to me last year, as then commissioner Burns got sick that day, I think. I congratulate Commissioner Stevens on his appointment to the commissioner position. I also congratulate Linda Williams on her appointment as Deputy Commissioner of Police, our first female deputy commissioner.
On my immediate left is Denis Patriarca, the Director, Business Services, SAPOL, or chief bean counter as he is referred to, and actually the Commissioner refers to him as the person who actually makes SAPOL run, and he is also the bearer of bad news most times to me, but anyway that is another story. Also, we have the Manager, Financial Management, SAPOL, Ian Hartmann, and behind me we have Fabio Principe, Acting Business Service Manager, SAPOL.
The CHAIR: Do you have an opening statement, minister?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will make a brief opening statement, Mr Chairman. In the past year the government has continued to support SAPOL to ensure that we have a modern police force with the tools it needs to keep our community safe. In a technological age, we must ensure that our police have the most up-to-date equipment and resources they need to fight crime. That is why, in this year's budget, the government has committed an extra funding to SAPOL to roll out body-worn cameras, portable data terminals and an upgrade of SAPOL's human resources system. This builds on this government's previous commitments such as facial recognition, fingerprint scanners and the upgrade of the Henley Beach Police Station, to name a few. I think my colleague on the bench to my left will be happy about that.
The overall budget for SAPOL continues to grow to ensure that we continue to provide one of the best police services in Australia. I also note that our police service has the highest confidence rating in the community, and it continues to do so. We have every cause to have confidence in our police force. South Australia already has more police per person than any other state, with the exception of the Northern Territory—I should say 'jurisdiction' because the Northern Territory is not a state yet, even though it would like to be one—and we continue to be one of the safest places to live.
This year, we also undertook a search for a new commissioner to continue the great work of former commissioner Burns. Commissioner Grant Stevens is now the new leader but he has certainly been mentored in the previous three years as deputy commissioner. It is a testament to our police service that a clear, unrivalled candidate was able to be selected from within its own ranks (this, of course, being Commissioner Grant Stevens). We also welcome new Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams who, like Commissioner Stevens, is held in high regard by her peers and the South Australian community. I think, collectively, they have over 70 years' service. The new leadership will continue to have a comprehensive overview of SAPOL to ensure that we have a modern, contemporary service capable of meeting community expectations.
I would like to go on the record and acknowledge my thanks to the member for Morialta for the very bipartisan way we approached the transition in the police leadership. It has made a very smooth transition and we can be very proud that we have moved to a new leadership team without any concerns. That cannot be said of every jurisdiction in the country. We have been able to go to a brand-new team much quicker than some have been able to get one person in place. That is, in part, because we have a great pool of talent within the police service to draw on.
The CHAIR: Member for Morialta, do you have an opening statement?
Mr GARDNER: Just very briefly I add my congratulations again to the new commissioner, Mr Stevens, and the new deputy commissioner. Going to questions, Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 113, 'Workforce summary': by what date will the government reach its 'recruit 300' promise?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We will achieve the date, and I will qualify that a little bit, because it recently changed. The government will honour the commitment it has made. The only qualification to that is that, as you would be aware, we now have moved to a 12-month training program. As a result—and I will confirm that—my understanding is that people will be in the system, but they will not all be going through the training program because they actually have now moved from nine months to 12 months. If you give me a second, I will give you some exact details. At this stage, in 2017-18 we will bring in the last 47, which will give us a total of 313. At this point in time, 2014-15, we are at 199. In 2015-16 we anticipate 20, in 2016-17 another 47, and in 2017-18 another 47.
Mr GARDNER: Those last 47 recruits are coming in in that 2017-18 year, but will they have completed their training and actually, if they conclude their training successfully, become probationary constables, at which point you might actually be able to consider them police officers? So, when will they be finished?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: In relation to your question, the remaining recruitment of an additional 114 FTE police cadets is 20 FTE in 2015-16, 47 FTE in 2016-17, and 47 FTE in 2017-18. The 47 cadets recruited in 2017-18 will graduate in 2018-19.
Mr GARDNER: They will graduate in 2018-19. At that point, when they are graduated in 2018-19, what is the projected number of sworn officers and community constables in SAPOL? If it is easier, you are welcome to provide it for each of the coming years, because that will be a later question.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I am not sure we have 2018-19, but we have 2017-18 for you. As you are probably aware, 2018-19 is a different parliamentary period.
Mr GARDNER: This promise has crossed three parliamentary periods now, sir.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We are committed to it.
Mr GARDNER: Continually.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes, that is right. What I can tell you is that, in 2017-18, at this point in time it will be 4,706.1 sworn, including cadets and community constables, as you indicated. We anticipate an unsworn component of 1,175.1, which will give us 5,881.2.
Mr GARDNER: That is 4,706.1 FTEs. What is the number for 2016-17 and 2015-16?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We only have the end of the period, unfortunately; we will have to get those figures for you.
Mr GARDNER: How many sworn officer positions are proposed to be civilianised and/or privatised over the period between now and that date?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will ask the commissioner. I am not sure I would use the same language you would use—clearly, that is designed to give media effect—but what I would point out—
Mr GARDNER: I am actually quoting the commissioner's language from his Press Club speech last week, sir.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I think what the commissioner was saying—and I would expect him to say that, as minister—was that he would run his organisation to the best of his ability, and that may mean that some tasks which are currently performed by sworn officers—sworn officers are best used for those key policing tasks. Some things which can be done by non-sworn people will be performed by non-sworn people, and that would be good practice. But, I will let the commissioner provide some additional details.
Cmmr STEVENS : Thanks, minister. What the minister says is correct: we do examine opportunities for civilianisation. There is no intention, at this point in time, to outsource or privatise any of the police functions in our current review program. We do not have any agenda for privatisation. In terms of civilianisation, we are currently examining the opportunity to civilianise our custody management services, taking police officers out of cell guard duties and putting them back into the front line. We are looking at approximately 42 FTEs from that particular function back into frontline policing.
Mr GARDNER: Are there any other categories you are looking at civilianisation? The previous commissioner had talked about solicitors.
Cmmr STEVENS : We are currently running a trial. I do not have the exact number of solicitors—I believe it is four civilian solicitors—working in our prosecution function. That is in what we would describe as a trial phase. So, subject to the outcome of that trial would dictate as to whether or not we continue to recruit civilian solicitors in that function.
Mr GARDNER: Can I clarify, then; we are definitely looking at custody management and we have a trial on civilian solicitors. Are you ruling out there being any other aspects of the force which are to be civilianised, or is it just that they have not yet been scoped? If you do have an idea of what they might be, can you identify for us the other categories of service, and what duties or roles are sought to be civilianised?
Cmmr STEVENS : We do not have any particular plans to civilianise any other functions within SAPOL. We have examined, in a cursory sense, the communications functions, although we have no determination in relation to that particular service. In a broad sense, as we are doing our structural review which is underway at the moment, we are examining the services we provide with a view to assessing that those services necessarily require sworn trained police officers to fulfil that function. If that analysis indicates that there is an opportunity to push police officers from the back office onto the front line then we will explore that and scope it further.
Mr GARDNER: The 42 FTEs in custody management and the four civilian solicitors, are they counted as sworn officers in the budget papers now?
Cmmr STEVENS : Yes.
Mr GARDNER: They are. And so, in that figure that the minister provided earlier of 4,706.1 into 2017-18, can you confirm that those 42 FTEs in custody management and the four civilian solicitors would therefore also be included in that, as would any other roles that are to be civilianised?
Cmmr STEVENS : The 42 FTEs from prisoner management—custody management—are already factored in. Given that the civilian solicitor model is still at a trial phase, that is not factored in.
Mr GARDNER: There are currently 46 FTEs we are looking at that, in this year's budget figures, according to your earlier answer, are counted as sworn officers although they are not, but in the future projection, they are not counted as sworn officers?
Cmmr STEVENS : If I understand your question correctly, that is correct; but, I must point out that the four solicitors are simply in trial at this point in time. There is no commitment at this point in time to commit fully to a fully civilianised model for our prosecution function.
Mr GARDNER: I am not trying to be difficult, I am just trying to clarify that we have a budget paper that identifies a certain number of sworn officers. But, as far as I can gather, it appears that at least 46 of those that are counted as sworn officers are not in fact sworn officers. Their roles may used to have been performed by sworn officers but they are not currently.
Cmmr STEVENS : That's correct, but at this point it is only 42 FTEs that we have committed to.
Mr GARDNER: The 42 FTEs in custody management, when are those roles going to become civilianised?
Cmmr STEVENS : We are aiming to achieve that within the next 18 months to two years.
Mr GARDNER: Some time in the next 18 months.
Cmmr STEVENS : To two years.
Mr GARDNER: Eighteen months to two years, certainly. Can you please provide to the committee a full list of the timing and the expected or desired numbers for all recruitment intakes, including commencement dates and completion dates, for the next three years? I am happy to take it on notice, if you like.
Cmmr STEVENS : We will take that on notice, thank you.
Mr GARDNER: How much attrition took place in relation to sworn officers in each category in 2014‑15?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The actual attrition for 2014-15 was 132 FTEs.
Mr GARDNER: And what is the anticipated attrition rate for 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017‑18?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We have a figure here for 2015-16. We in effect use an averaging figure based on trends. From this point on we are using around 140, but that will be reviewed each year as the trend becomes clearer.
Mr GARDNER: Can I just return to the questions in relation to custody management? What process is anticipated for moving those 42 roles? Currently they are sworn officers. At some stage in the future you believe there are improvements to be made as a result of not having those roles as sworn officers. I can understand that you want sworn officers to be doing something else, but who do you anticipate performing that role?
Cmmr STEVENS : What you describe is correct. We want our trained police officers performing operational policing duties where possible. So our expectation, upon reviewing the business processes for custody management and identifying where we are able to civilianise, is that we would replace police officers with protective security officers who are also SAPOL employees.
Mr GARDNER: How many protective security officers are currently in the 2014-15 and 2015‑16 years for SAPOL?
Cmmr STEVENS : Currently, for the last financial year, we have a total strength of 124 protective security officers.
Mr GARDNER: So you would be looking to increase that from 124 to 166, or thereabouts, sometime in the next 18 months?
Cmmr STEVENS : Approximately, yes.
Mr GARDNER: Where are these protective security officers going to be stationed, or where are those sworn officers currently stationed? Are we are talking about the watch house, Holden Hill?
Cmmr STEVENS : Watch house, Holden Hill. The Holden Hill custody facility is going to cease to be used by police, so it will be Elizabeth and the City Watchhouse and also South Coast and Port Adelaide.
Mr GARDNER: What is the budget saving for police of transferring those 42 from sworn officers to protective security officers to perform the same role?
Cmmr STEVENS: The forecast is $1.1 million.
Mr GARDNER: And some time in the next 18 to 24 months?
Cmmr STEVENS: That's correct.
Mr GARDNER: If that $1.1 million is to be an anticipated saving for police, those 42 sworn officers who are currently performing that role, they will not be made redundant?
Cmmr STEVENS: No, they will not. They will be moved to the front line.
Mr GARDNER: But you are looking to increase the number of protective security officers in that time.
Cmmr STEVENS: That is correct.
Mr GARDNER: So can you explain where the saving is to be made there, if we are actually just looking to increase the numbers of staff overall?
The CHAIR: I just remind you, member for Morialta, I know that it is cumbersome but your questions need to be through the minister.
Mr GARDNER: Sorry, sir. Perhaps I was expecting him to answer them all.
The CHAIR: It is a cumbersome process, I understand that, and it is up to the minister to pass it on, obviously.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: This is going to be a clumsy way of explaining it, but I will do my best. The police force is like all agencies; it is required to deliver budget savings, as required of other agencies. Equally, we provide new funding for additional changes in various new areas of policing—technology, etc. So you have these two things moving at the same time and the net effect is that we will be changing the mix of the police force itself.
On the one hand they will be delivering savings in one area, but part of that savings is also to help fund new initiatives, to make sure they occur. So what we expect the police to do is, like every agency, look at ways to do their business much more effectively and efficiently, and they do a good job. That is part of it. Secondly, those savings are then redirected as, if you like, elements of a contribution.
I know, as I said, that is a cumbersome way; but say we had another agency, it would deliver the savings—full stop. With police we are, obviously, keen to make sure that we maintain the levels of activity in police, and so what we do is redirect those savings partly as new ventures or new areas of police activity.
Mr GARDNER: Minister, it sounds to me as if there is $1.1 million being saved by moving custodial management from sworn officers to PSOs, and those 42 police that are doing that role at the moment currently do not have another role to go to. However, you are saying that they might at some stage in the future, as new programs come on track.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Can you say that again?
Mr GARDNER: We have identified that there is a $1.1 million saving by having sworn officers no longer doing this role and it moving to PSOs; so the civilianisation of that workforce creates a $1.1 million saving. We have not identified where those 42 officers are going. Am I correct in characterising your previous explanation as being that there may be new projects, new programs, new things coming on line that might be activity for them to do? I am just unclear about whether these guys have any security.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: They certainly have security; that we can guarantee, assure them of. Part of that is also attrition, as we have attrition some of those numbers go behind that. It is not a static thing. You have a whole range of different processes.
As I said, from memory this year it was 132 people who have left the force. This is spread over a number of years, so those people will go into the roles where people are still required. It is a case of some people leaving, and we will reallocate people from one task to another task where those people have left and we can see that that task needs to be maintained, that it is important. Some will go into new initiatives. In fact, if you look at those 42, we actually still have to recruit more people, because we lose 130 and 42 have been reallocated.
Mr GARDNER: In the commissioner's previous answer, he identified that Holden Hill will cease operating as a police custodial facility. When will that take place?
C m mr STEVENS: We do not have a specific date in mind. It is still under review in terms of the time frames to achieve that.
Mr GARDNER: So is Holden Hill under this anticipated change going to be available for Corrections to continue using it for overflow from the prisons?
Cmmr STEVENS: That is correct, yes.
Mr GARDNER: What will the facility become if not police holding cells?
Cmmr STEVENS : It will be under the management of the South Australia Police, but utilised by Corrections. We have an arrangement. We have an MOU that we are currently working through with Corrections in relation to the use of police custody facilities for their surge capacity and that will continue.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I am sure you asked me some questions in the other portfolio about that.
Mr GARDNER: We might ask you some here. Can the commissioner confirm that the proposed memorandum of administrative arrangements at this stage has not been signed by Corrections?
Cmmr STEVENS : I can confirm that has not been signed.
Mr GARDNER: Given that the original memorandum of administrative arrangements I think was during last year—I stand to be corrected—signed by former commissioner Burns, do we have to start this process again with a new signature from the commissioner, or have there been any changes to the one that has been made publicly available?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will answer the first part of the question. It would be a memorandum of understanding between the two agencies, irrespective of whose signatures appear and the fact that we have had a change in leadership does not change that agreement. If it is to be changed, it would be because there had just been new arrangements put in place, which the new commissioner would then sign on behalf of the police and David Brown would sign on behalf of Corrections. Having said that, I can reassure people that the arrangements are working in a practical sense and we make sure that any person whom the courts send to us to be looked after, or the police refuse bail to, is in cells. In the end, that is the ultimate test. If either the courts or the police say they should be in cells, they are. I will allow the commissioner to provide the additional details you have asked for.
Cmmr STEVENS : Thanks, minister. Our bottom line position in relation to Corrections using police facilities is that it does not impinge on police operational matters. We have had occasions where we have had to limit access to our facilities because of an identified policing need. In the absence of a signed memorandum of understanding, we are continuing to manage that process.
Mr GARDNER: Can the minister confirm that during the last financial year the use of the Sturt police cells by Corrections was withdrawn by police?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes, I can confirm that.
Mr GARDNER: On what date was Sturt last used to hold remand prisoners—or indeed sentenced prisoners, but I would be more surprised by that?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: You know the rules about sentenced prisoners. I will give you a date in a second. What I can confirm is that DCS has not utilised the 10 beds at Sturt since 4 February 2015.
Mr GARDNER: The bottom line for police identified by the commissioner a moment ago was that they wished there to be no operational impact on police; I think that is a fair characterisation of what the commissioner has just said. Can you identify what pressures and challenges the police cells' use by Corrections can create for police, has created over the last year?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: If they have. Your question supposed—
Mr GARDNER: The commissioner identified that there had been occasions.
Cmmr STEVENS : The circumstances that would fit within what you are describing are particularly around long weekends and public holidays, and also during peak season such as Mad March, as it is well known by in South Australia, where we have actually limited access to police custody facilities by DCS because of an anticipated need. There have been occasions, particularly with the Sturt cells, where over time costs were incurred by police and DCS reimbursed SAPOL for those costs associated with us having to transport prisoners to alternative locations.
The CHAIR: Member for Morialta, I am just going to go to the member for Colton who has been waiting very patiently for a question.
Mr GARDNER: I have one more supplementary question.
The CHAIR: There are no supplementaries in the estimates process.
The Hon. P. CAICA: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Minister, I refer to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 114. I do not want to trick you, but how is the government continuing to support police infrastructure in the western suburbs?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I thank the honourable member for his question, and I can say for the record that he has asked me this question and asked me for comments about how the western suburbs are going on a number of occasions, and you can rest assured that he is certainly looking after the western suburbs.
In March last year, the government announced that if it were re-elected a new police station would be built at Henley Beach to replace the current station on Military Road. Having visited the current 50-year-old station, it is obvious why an upgrade was desperately needed. The existing police station and associated buildings will be demolished and a brand-new facility constructed on the same site, with construction due to begin next month. It is expected that that will take roughly 12 months to complete.
SAPOL will continue to provide policing services to the community during construction. The new design provides a secure and safe operational facility for SAPOL and visitors. The design provides maximum current flexibility for SAPOL operations and accommodates all SAPOL functions in a single building, all accessed internally, unlike the current arrangement which has multiple buildings, and therefore it will improve efficiency and also security.
The project will provide Henley Beach and the western suburbs with a modern police facility designed to provide improved functionality to meet current policy needs and modernising policing services. The new police station is designed to accommodate SAPOL's requirement for delivering police services, and it will include a public reception, with adjoining private interview facilities.
It has been designed to provide a significantly improved working environment and operational efficiency, with better layout of meeting spaces, patrol bag storage areas, operational equipment room and access to patrol cars for a quick response. Having visited the site, I can attest that it is very inefficient at the moment. Clearly, it has been modified over the years and, like most modified buildings, it is not quite built for purpose.
The concept developmental phase has been completed and the documentation for Development Assessment Commission approval was lodged in March 2015, and a Public Works Committee hearing was held on 14 May. With a 12-month build period, it is expected that the new building will be completed and occupied by the end of September 2016, when I hope to join the local member there for an official opening, and I would be more than happy to invite the opposition spokesperson to join us as well on that occasion.
Mr GARDNER: Sorry, sir, can you just clarify the date you just identified for its completion?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It should be completed, at this stage, by September 2016.
Mr GARDNER: September 2016. Can I ask why it appears in the budget paper on page 114 as June 2017?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: That covers the defect period and therefore any liabilities as well for them and payments. The building itself will be occupied.
Mr GARDNER: Why was there a delay of one year from last year's budget paper, on page 36 of the capital statement, to this year's Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 114, which had identified it as a June 2016 completion including that, and it is now June 2017?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I can explain that. When we announced this new station, there were discussions held between SAPOL and the local council. The local council was keen to see whether it could actually be incorporated into another site, and we were obviously keen to work with local government, which is representing the community.
Given the processes involved in local government, and that local government, in my understanding, did not have a definitive date when they could actually deliver an alternative site or definitive location, those two factors meant that it would prevent the government from meeting its commitment, and therefore in the end we decided to stay where we are, demolish the site and rebuild, and therefore we are doing that.
Mr GARDNER: So the delay was the negotiation with the local council related to site issues and their preferences?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: Can I ask when SAPOL first requested an upgrade or replacement for the Henley Beach Police Station?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: That was before my time. In the end, the buck stops with the government: we made a commitment, and that we honoured.
Mr GARDNER: Indeed, but was any scoping work done by SAPOL prior to its announcement by the government or prior to its inclusion in last year's budget and, if so, when did that work start?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It was an election commitment, so it would have been before last year's budget. We committed ourselves at the last election to build one there and obviously the work would have started then. What I can confirm is that in March 2014 the government announced that, if re-elected, a new police station would be built at Henley Beach to replace the current one.
Mr GARDNER: Certainly, but you have clarified in your initial answer to the member for Colton's question your own personal view that the station is in significant need of refurbishment, and I am not doubting that. Are there any other stations that SAPOL has identified as needing significant refurbishment or improvement as well?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: First of all, that was my personal view as a layperson. I am not an officer, so my perception might be different. Having said that, it is an operational matter and I would seek advice from the commissioner.
C m m r STEVENS: We do not have any planned major changes to our police station facilities. We have reasonably good facilities across the state at this point in time.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The one at Gawler is really good.
Mr GARDNER: Certainly. There was one in Newton until recently that I quite enjoyed as well.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: That is not a police station.
Mr GARDNER: It used to be. It was described as a police station in the government's materials on many occasions. The Henley Beach Police Station, having been identified by the government as one in significant need or urgent refurbishment and an election promise given, had it previously been identified by SAPOL to government as a project in need of priority?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I can advise that we get requests from all members on a whole range of things. SAPOL were asked for feasibility, and they provided that advice; as a result of that advice, we committed ourselves to rebuild it.
Mr GARDNER: When was that advice provided to government?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Given that we made a commitment in March 2014, it was prior to that date; I do not know the exact date, but it was prior to that date. We undertook that commitment understanding what would be involved.
Mr GARDNER: Were there any other projects, infrastructure or requests from SAPOL identified at the same time as that advice was provided?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: SAPOL did not provide us with any other advice on any other station to be done at that time, no.
Mr GARDNER: What about any other projects, infrastructure, IT equipment or other expenditure requirements, what might be described if it were a cabinet process in relation to the budget as a 'budget bid', but it was not that because it was clearly before the election?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The commissioner has just advised me that there have been a number of IT improvements which SAPOL have recommended to government as possible commitments; some of them were obviously announced in 2014. These things change on an ongoing basis as police operations review their situation. For example, the satellite stations was not a matter brought to the government's attention prior to the election and, therefore, it is a post-election operational matter dealt with by police.
Mr GARDNER: Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 114, why has the facial recognition technology identified in last year's budget for completion during 2015 been delayed to June 2016 and will it be delivered on time now?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I need to be careful what I say publicly, because we are in a tender phase for these items, so I do not wish to say anything that will unduly create influence or create problems with the tender. What I can say is that the process is taking longer than anticipated, and that we are in a tender process. I cannot really add much at this point publicly.
Mr GARDNER: Perhaps on the same page, why has the domestic violence legislation support system, identified in last year's budget for completion by June 2015, been delayed to June 2016 in this year's budget, and will it be delivered on time?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will take it on notice and get back to you on that one.
Mr GARDNER: Why has the hi-tech crime fighting equipment, identified in last year's budget for completion by June 2015, been delayed to 2016 in this year's budget, and will all of it be delivered on time?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The high-tech crime equipment involves a range of projects, including the portable fingerprint scanners, portable data terminals and the mobile automatic numberplate recognition. Some of those things have been implemented—not all have. In one area we need some changes to legislation to enable them to be implemented as well.
Mr GARDNER: Which area is that?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The portable fingerprint scanners. At the moment I understand it is a voluntary thing. This is to enable us to use it where people do not volunteer. The advantage of this equipment is that on the spot you can actually rule people in and out and can confirm the identities, which is obviously very important as police need to know who they are dealing with. At the moment it has been a voluntary scheme, but we need to fully roll it out and make it 100 per cent useful, and we need changes where police can insist upon it. Legislation drafted and issued for public comment will, if passed, compel a person of interest to submit their fingerprint. The fingerprint solution won the inaugural Premier's award and was the runner-up in the 2000 national awards too, so it is a good scheme.
Mr GARDNER: It has won an award, but it cannot yet be used?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, it is used: you are verballing me now, member for Morialta.
Mr GARDNER: How often it is refused then as a percentage of how often it is attempted to be used?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, we do not know the figures, sorry.
Mr GARDNER: But enough to require the legislative change?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes.
Cmmr STEVENS : If I can just provide some comment on that, we do not have the specific numbers on how many times it is refused, but we can say that, whilst in a voluntary capacity, it is assisting operational police in identifying people who happily submit to that process, and it eliminates the need for some people to be apprehended on the basis of unable to confirm their identity, and it also eliminates people from being unnecessarily arrested for warrants and other matters like that if we are able to clarify their identification in the first instance.
Mr GARDNER: Last question on this line, page 114 still: the 2014 budget identified $4.6 million for asset maintenance. The estimated result was $8.8 million. Perhaps take on notice if you like what the exact final figure was there, but why was there a $4 million blowout in asset maintenance?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Could you just give us the reference again, please?
Mr GARDNER: Page 114, Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, near the bottom: 'Annual programs—asset maintenance'. If you read from the right, for the 2014-15 budget it was $4.657 million and now it is $8.8 million, as what was spent.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We do not have the actual breakdown for you, so we will get that breakdown for you. What I have been told is it is a mixed change between capital and operating investment, but I have been reassured it is not a blowout. We will get those figures for you.
Mr GARDNER: Sorry, sir, you have said it is not a blowout, but it was budgeted at $4.7 million and it has been spent as $8.8 million, and we have also budgeted $7.3 million for it this year, which is $2½ million more than it was supposed to cost last year. So, something on this budget line means it is costing 50 per cent more than it was supposed to last year. The costs nearly doubled what it was supposed to cost last year. I appreciate you will take the detail on notice, but can you give us any explanation as to why we are spending $4 million more on this budget line than we were expecting to?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Unfortunately we do not have that detail. We will have to get it for you.
Mr GARDNER: I look forward to it.
Mr WINGARD: My first question relates to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 137, line 13: 'Fees, fines and penalties—Infringement Notice Scheme—expiated fee'. There is an extra $9 million budgeted to be collected in 2015-16, with a total of $88.256 million to be collected. How much of that revenue will be going to SAPOL and how much of that revenue will be going back to the general government coffers?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I am advised that it all goes to the Community Road Safety Fund.
Mr WINGARD: Is there a concern then that, with the collection of an extra $9 million, police working on the ground will be perceived as revenue raisers for government funds?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: You have made that comment once before recently, and it is not right. If you actually look at the trend figures, there are some timing issues there. I think, from memory, one of the issues was some of the equipment did not come online. So, if you look at the estimates last year, it is actually below last year's estimates, so it is not a $9 million increase at all; it is actually a timing issue. I will get the figures for you.
The Hon. P. CAICA: You can't be booked for doing nothing.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Well, partly you can't be booked for doing nothing, but also the actual assertion that it is a $9 million increase is not correct. You have taken one isolated figure and, when you look at the trend figures, that is not the case, because in fact last year's figures actually were below, which you have not spoken about.
Mr WINGARD: I am happy to speak about it. Last year's figure was below, but you have budgeted for a $9 million increase this year.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It can be explained mainly in relation to the delays in point-to-point cameras coming on scheme. Some where due to come into operation in the last financial year, which they did not, so those figures would have projected that income. They have not, so they will come on in the next financial year. If you say it is a $9 million increase, you are actually double counting the figures, because they have actually gone down. I think it is a net figure of around $3.6 million—that rings a bell.
Mr WINGARD: Just to clarify; the figures were down last year because the point-to-points did not come online?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: That is right; and, I understand that we were actually criticised for not having them in place, so it is interesting.
Mr WINGARD: I am just still wanting to clarify; I think you are trying to double-dip, with the greatest of respect. You are saying because you did not get them online last year, you have brought in less revenue than what you budgeted for. But, next year, you want to catch that up, and there is a $9 million—
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, it is not a catch-up; they will be in place so that the income which we will forgo one year just goes into next year. But, if you use last year's figure, which is lower, to next year's figure, it is going to be higher. If they had actually been in place, next year's figure would not have increased as much.
Mr WINGARD: So, simplistically, you did not get what you budgeted for last year because point-to-points did not come online. Had they come online, do you think you would have reached your target?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes; and also other cameras. I would also remind members that I get a number of requests from all members of parliament from both sides of the house to put additional cameras in. Also, there were some additional—I will give you the whole thing: the 2015‑16 budget for expiation revenue, excluding the victims of crime levy, is 88.3. The estimated result relates to road safety initiatives, including enforcements through additional red-light, speed and point-to-point cameras. That is what we are going to do. It is not just point-to-point, but other ones as well.
Mr WINGARD: Since the point-to-point cameras you talk about have come online, what percentage of people who have been detected as going over the speed limit have actually been expiated and paid their fine?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: For example, the 2014-15 budget, we actually anticipated around 18,500 expiations. We had 3,100 expiations estimated.
Mr WINGARD: 3,100?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes.
Mr WINGARD: That is expiations issued, but how many of those have been paid?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: If they are expiated, it means they are paid.
Mr WINGARD: So they have all been paid. How many were issued and not paid then?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, I do not know that figure, sorry; I only have the expiated figures. We will get that for you.
Mr WINGARD: Thank you. So, 18,500 is what you budgeted for, but you only got the 3,100. Is that because they were not turned on in time? Is that what you were saying before?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes. Just to put it in context, in the 2014-15 budget, we expected a total of 242,900 expiation notices to be issued. In the end, we only received 233,800, which is lower. That just shows we do not just go out there willy-nilly issuing expiation notices.
Mr WINGARD: Do you have a figure for how many people were photographed by point-to-point cameras breaking the law and doing the wrong thing, and then how many people were expiated? So, the differential?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No. You have asked that question partly differently just a moment ago. No, we do not have the number issued—the number paid or expiated. We will have to get those figures for you.
Mr WINGARD: I just know there were some issues—and it was in the media at the time—of people crossing the road, for example, to try to avoid the cameras and that sort of stuff. So, photos were taken of people, but they were not actually able to be followed up. I just want to know what percentage of people were not followed up.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We do keep that data, so we will get that to you.
Mr WINGARD: Thank you, I appreciate that.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: If you are talking about people who try to avoid the cameras—
Mr WINGARD: Two parts: one is people who were photographed and their numberplate might have been blurry, they might have had mud on their numberplate, or whatever it might be; and people who were photographed and identified as breaking the law, but for some reason you could not send them an expiation notice. I am just after how many were photographed and then not sent a fine for some reason.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: So for some reason they were reviewed and not issued with an expiation in the end.
Mr WINGARD: Yes, thank you. In Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 117, line 4, you mention 'Continued to improve security on metropolitan trains, trams and interchanges.' On AFL match days and special events, how often are transit police taken off the role and transferred to crowd control leaving no transit police on the public transport network?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Given that it is an operational matter, I will get the commissioner to answer it.
Cmmr STEVENS : There is no occasion where we do not have transit police working on various transit routes. On significant events in and around the Adelaide precinct, around the train station and between that and the Adelaide Oval, there is a responsibility for transit policing services to provide a policing response in that environment as well, but we do not ever take all transit police away from the transit system.
Mr WINGARD: What is the number of transit police officers as FTEs, so the FTEs for all police there? Do you have a number for the transit police?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We do not have the exact figure, but what I can say is that I have been advised by SAPOL that during the year there was obviously an ongoing review of how we operate. One of the things that was decided by SAPOL was to make greater use of local service area police, because they were finding that having only transit police deal with transit matters actually delayed some of the follow-up work. Some additional responsibilities were given to local service areas to complement the transit police. I remember getting a briefing some time ago. If you have a transit officer, some of the support stuff and follow-up stuff is actually done by the local service areas. I will get the figure for you.
Cmmr STEVENS : We do not have the figure in terms of the exact number of transit police officers. Just to elaborate on what the minister is referring to, the responsibility for attending grade 1, grade 2 taskings that relate to a transit-related precinct, such as a train station, or if there is a call for assistance by a transit train driver, that will be responded to in the first instance by a local service area patrol, unless there is actually a transit patrol team in the near vicinity. All of our transit police are deployed on transit-related activities.
Mr WINGARD: Thank you for that. Just on that, if I could get the FTEs and then the budgeted FTEs as far as the estimates go forward, whether the numbers are going up or down. Thank you. In Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 127, line 3, the number of detections for drug driving is up 17.7 per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15. I think the figure is 4,146 up to 4,880. I am just wondering whether the minister is alarmed by this 17.7 per cent rise.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: In terms of drug detections?
Mr WINGARD: Yes.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Any drug-related or drink-driving offence would be alarming to anybody because those people obviously pose a serious risk to people on the roads. What I can say is that some of the increase can be explained by different techniques the police are using. They are using a much more strategic, intelligence-based approach, therefore they are getting better results for each transaction, but I will get some details for you.
In terms of the actual figures, the police have a target of conducting 47,000 driver screenings per year. That is our target as a deterrent. At the commencement of roadside driver drug testing, SAPOL utilised a small group of 13 specially-trained officers to undertake the task. In 2008 this task was decentralised and the program was expanded across all traffic enforcement officers, and in South Australia we therefore actually had more resources.
South Australia now aims to conduct 47,000 screenings of drivers per year for proscribed drugs. More recently, I understand that officers on Kangaroo Island have now begun the training required to undertake activities there on site. So you will probably find there may be more responses in terms of more reports of drug driving, unfortunately.
Mr WINGARD: I hate to think what you are suggesting there. The 47,000 screening number, how does that compare to previous years? Is there a budgeted increase in years going forward?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We have set a target of 47,000 and preliminary results indicate we have actually exceeded that this year.
Mr WINGARD: Is it budgeted to increase?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No; it is just at 47,000.
Mr WINGARD: That is the flat rate. How does that compare to other states as far as per capita testing is concerned?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We have to be a bit careful, and I will demonstrate that by using drink driving as an example. You might recall that in the old days of drink driving police used to stand in a place and literally do thousands of people. The detection rate has actually gone up, partly because we do it differently now; it is much more intelligence-based and we have a smaller group of people who we tackle, but it is a higher rate of detection.
I think one of the dangers of using flat figures is that you can do things and get a lower result. What our results are showing—and you have indicted the increases—is that our approach is yielding results. That is what you are after: results, rather than just what you put into it.
Mr WINGARD: Is there not a deterrent role in actually having breathalyser units on the side of the road? Is that not perhaps a message and a deterrent phase as well?
Cmmr STEVENS: We have a combination of deterrent and targeted testing. We still do the bulk testing locations, and they are staggered, because it does deliver a good road safety message to people that we are out there. We actually change the mix in terms of the number of tests we set for target testing as well, using mobile patrols as random alcohol testing.
In terms of the drug-testing regime in South Australia, we do not have the exact numbers in terms of a comparison with other jurisdictions, but we do know that South Australia is a leader, not just in Australia but also worldwide, in terms of its random drug-testing initiative.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: In terms of detection rates, during 2013-14 the detection rate was 8.19 per cent of drivers stopped and in 2014-15 it has gone up a bit to about 9 per cent.
Mr WINGARD: Can I get a breakdown of the changing of percentage as far as bulk testing to targeted testing goes, over the past few years? You mentioned the change of attention—
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes; but we will need to take that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: I go to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 113, and the workforce summary. Why is South Australia Police now charging potential applicants $175 to attend a TAFE pre-application test before they are allowed to try to get into the police force? Can you also clarify the cost of that? I think on TAFE's website it says it is about $145 but in correspondence I have received $175 is identified as the cost.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: What was the last bit you said about—
Mr GARDNER: There is a very simple question: what is the actual cost of the pre-application test? The TAFE website identifies, I think, $145 but I have heard a different figure of $175 as well.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It is just the GST on it.
Mr GARDNER: So, it is $145 plus GST—
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It is $135 plus GST.
Mr GARDNER: So it is about $150 to take the test.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It's $148.50.
Mr GARDNER: Excellent. Let me restate the question: why are we charging people who want to serve the community $150 just for the privilege of being able to apply to get into SAPOL?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The benefits of this change include gaining process efficiencies and reducing the testing of unsuitable applicants who do not meet the basic literacy, language and numeracy requirements. This might also enable those applicants who fail the TAFE South Australia testing to be diverted into appropriate developmental courses if they so desire. The testing helps us identify people who may not be suitable, and also those people who may be suitable but who may require some additional support.
There are key benefits for both SAPOL and the applicant in adopting a testing system, and additional benefits in utilising TAFE SA include: an ability to streamline other elements of the recruitment process with an enhanced pre-entry requirement; reduction in cost to SAPOL to administer this test; a reduction in workload to process an application to the test stage; and TAFE has the capacity to offer the testing to a high volume of applicants at any given location, both country and metropolitan. It also aims to reduce the number of unsuitable applicants submitting applications to SAPOL, thus eliminating a lot of work in processing those applications. There are additional efficiencies to be gained by the introduction of a system which reduces cost and resourcing price by not continually testing unsuitable people.
As you can imagine, SAPOL is an employer which most people would like to be an employee of, and therefore it attracts a lot of candidates who may not be suitable. This system enables us, from SAPOL's point of view, to have a much more efficient system, but it also has benefits to the applicant. The TAFE model will facilitate retesting on a quarterly basis, whereas under the current model applicants can only sit once per year. This is due to psychometric testing restrictions. The system also enables TAFE to provide comprehensive feedback, and when an applicant fails the aptitude test, TAFE has developed a system to divert them into other developmental courses to improve their skills for any type of employment that requires a basic aptitude. This is particularly beneficial for use in culturally and linguistically diverse applicants.
Mr GARDNER: I appreciate that you have said that it will reduce the number of unsuitable applicants going into SAPOL. I am concerned about the number of suitable applicants who might not happen to have $150 handy when they want to go and take the pre-application test, which is now mandatory to be able to go forward. You identified that there was a saving to SAPOL as part of your last answer. What is the saving to SAPOL as part of this test? In addition to that, the funds that go to TAFE—that $150—is that cost recovery, or is that providing an income stream for TAFE as well?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I think your concern would be that people who do not have the financial resources otherwise might be suitable candidates. Is that it?
Mr GARDNER: Yes.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: What I can advise is that TAFE advises concession pricing is available to people who show that they cannot afford it.
Mr GARDNER: What is the concession?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I do not have that figure with me, but I can get that figure for you. We need to get it for you. We will take it on notice, that one.
Mr GARDNER: The $150 fees that go to TAFE: is that a revenue stream for TAFE, or does that come back to SAPOL?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: My understanding is that it goes to TAFE, because they actually provide the service.
Mr GARDNER: Certainly. In the negotiation of this service, was any discussion entered into between SAPOL and TAFE as to whether this was going to be done on a cost-recovery basis, or is it just anticipated that TAFE offered to do this service and the expectation is that it will be an income stream for them?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I really would not be in a position to comment. All I can say is that we do not make money from it, and it was actually done for very good reasons, very practical reasons for both SAPOL and the applicant. As to the policy TAFE adopted, you will need to ask the head of TAFE.
Mr GARDNER: What does the TAFE test measure?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Literacy. I think I mentioned that already
Mr GARDNER: You mentioned some of the things, including numeracy. Maybe if I can clarify, I understand a range of issues are measured. Some of them are done by TAFE and then some people, having done the pre-application test, then have the opportunity to go to SAPOL. For example, the fitness test, the obstacle course, all those sorts of things, are still under SAPOL. I am not sure where the psychological testing is done. Literacy is clearly done at the pre-application test.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: And numeracy.
Mr GARDNER: I just want some clarity about what the other things are that the pre-application test does, so that we then know that everything else is done by SAPOL.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The information I have before me, and I will have to confirm this for you, would suggest that it is literacy, language and numeracy undertaken by TAFE.
Mr GARDNER: Given that the applicant starts with coming in to do that test at TAFE, and I understand that they are offered every two weeks and that it is a three-hour morning program according to the TAFE website, how long would a potential recruit from the country have to be in Adelaide to go through all the other tests police would then require of them? Is it on the same afternoon, the following day, or does it require a separate trip once somebody has passed their TAFE test?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I am advised that, after this initial round, we anticipate that TAFE will be able to provide this pre-entry testing in country locations.
Mr GARDNER: When will that be offered?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I need to take that on notice and get back to you on that one.
Mr GARDNER: How many people have passed and how many people have failed this test since it was introduced in, I think, April?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will get that information for you.
Mr GARDNER: Can the minister in doing so identify for the first part of the financial year and the last financial year—both for 2013-14 and for 2014-15 until this test took over—how many applicants there were for the internal police process, how many passed and how many failed that pre-entry process into the Police Academy under the old system.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We will get that figure for you.
Mr GARDNER: Is a criminal history check undertaken prior to someone being allowed to sit the pre-application test?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No.
Mr GARDNER: If somebody has a criminal history that might preclude them from being allowed to serve with SAPOL, there is nothing that is going to flag for them, 'Oh this is a waste of $150 me even applying'?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, because our website makes it very clear that, if you are planning to apply, it goes through the whole process. It does tell applicants that if you pass that you will then be subject to a criminal activity test; you should know whether or not you have been reported for a serious offence. That would actually guide people as to whether they apply or not because the system will pick people up.
Mr GARDNER: What level of criminal history would preclude an applicant being considered for entry into the academy?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Clearly, any serious offence would deny a person entry to the police force. In terms of any perhaps what you might call a misdemeanour or minor matter, it would depend on the volume of the offence or reoffending, and also on the circumstances around that offending.
Mr GARDNER: If there is some flexibility, at what level is that judgement call made?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: That is made by SAPOL.
Mr GARDNER: Sure, but what level within SAPOL, sir?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It is done by the HR department within SAPOL.
Mr GARDNER: Can I go to budget line, page 129, the expenses, the intragovernment transfers, about 10 lines down. It seems to have increased from $39,000, in last year's budget papers, to an actual result of about $761,000 for 2014-15. Can you identify what that increase is all about, and is it, indeed, intergovernment transfers to TAFE or is that all done separately?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It appears we do not have that level of detail. We can get that for you.
Mr GARDNER: We might just go back to the workforce summary. The commissioner made a Press Club speech last week, and I congratulate him for making himself available to the community on his first day on the job, although I suspect that might not have been the intention when he accepted the speech request. He identified that the six current LSAs will be reduced to three. Can you provide a time frame under which that will take place and how many metropolitan and how many country LSAs does it look as if we will have?
Cmmr STEVENS: We are still working through the process of developing the model that is going to be implemented; however, we have a plan to commence implementation of this new model before the end of this calendar year. I have articulated quite clearly that it is my intention to do that. There will be no change to our regional local service area model at this point in time. We are currently working on the metropolitan concept. As you have indicated, it is our intention, after a period of consultation, to reduce from six local service areas to three.
Mr GARDNER: When will an announcement be made available about that level of detail?
Cmmr STEVENS: We have already provided a concept paper for consultation and further information to our workforce and other interested stakeholders. We currently have a project team now working on the mechanics of actually implementing that change. Once that is completed, we will be putting it out for consultation and, after a reasonable period of consultation, we will commence implementation.
Mr GARDNER: Are any other stations being considered for closure apart from the eight that were closed in May?
Cmmr STEVENS: No.
Mr GARDNER: Do we have any sense about what stations will serve as LSA headquarters?
Cmmr STEVENS: At this stage, we have not locked down which of those will be the headquarter stations, but we are looking at joining together local service areas which share a common border. It is too early to give any indication which of those stations will be the headquarter stations.
Mr GARDNER: What do you intend to do with the others, the ones that are no longer going to be LSA headquarters?
Cmmr STEVENS: They will still continue to operate as patrol bases and they will house various SAPOL operational front-line functions, such as CIB, family violence, patrols, community policing teams. They will still exist and operate under their current use.
Mr GARDNER: Can I go to another line.
The CHAIR: Before you do, member for Morialta, the member for Elder has a question.
Ms DIGANCE: Can the minister inform the committee about the advances in the use of social media? This is Budget Paper 5, pages 49 to 50.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I thank the member for her question. I confirm that one of the things the police do extremely well is communicate with the community; one of the techniques they use is obviously social media. SAPOL continues to use social media as a great tool to get information out to the South Australian community. SAPOL has over 40,000 Twitter followers (a few more than I have), and this has doubled in the last 12 months. Its Facebook page has the largest following of any police jurisdiction in Australia, with nearly 280,000 followers.
Mr PICTON: As of now, 297,000.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Obviously, the estimates committee has increased attention. It must be a good performance, commissioner. As members of the community share police information to their networks, SAPOL routinely reaches more than a million people each week. SAPOL's social media strategies can contribute to reducing crime and protecting the community from harm by:
informing and warning the public during times of emergency;
assisting in investigations;
maintaining community confidence and trust;
acting to reassure the community;
protecting SAPOL's reputation; and
reaching a wide range of stakeholders.
SAPOL's social media have continued to demonstrate enormous reach. During the Sampson Flat bushfires, SAPOL's Facebook traffic peaked at over two million, compared with weekly traffic of 1.6 million.
SAPOL was able to amplify key agency messages, provide details of road closures and warnings—which is extremely important—but, more importantly, during any major incident often a lot of inaccurate information is out there that people often act upon. SAPOL's social media are able to myth-bust in an evolving situation that is of vital interest to the community. This event highlighted the power and importance of social media.
If I remember correctly some discussions I had with SAPOL recently, they are looking to see how we can better support the Neighbourhood Watch program with the greater use of social media. We are trying to use a different platform because, as you can imagine, people are relying more on social media than on face contact in terms of meetings, so we are investigating how we can strengthen our Neighbourhood Watch program with the more effective use of social media.
Mr WINGARD: I refer to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 127, line 7, number of detections as a percentage of the number of vehicles passing mobile speed cameras. Why has there been an increase of 22 per cent in the past 12 months from .78 to 1 per cent of vehicles passing mobile speed cameras that were picked up and fined?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Are you talking total or mobile or fixed?
Mr WINGARD: Number of detections as a percentage of the number of vehicles passing mobile speed cameras.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We will have to take it on notice as I do not have the answer here. It is like most things, if you do it differently and better you get just get better results.
Mr WINGARD: It was budgeted to be 1 per cent in 2013-14, but it only returned .78 per cent, and then it was budgeted to return 1 per cent in 2014-15 and it met that return. So, are you saying it is an efficiency issue?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, I did not say it was efficiency. I do not know the answer for you. It is one of the issues that went below budget last year, but increased this year. It may be a case where we are anticipating more. This is part of the answer, but I will get the full answer on notice. Part of it is that an upgrade in camera technology has improved quality and detection rates, in other words the gap between issuing is higher.
Mr WINGARD: I refer to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 127, line 4, the number of speed detection hours—mobile cameras, mobile radars and lasers. There is a budgeted 25 per cent increase in detections hours from what was achieved this year, which was 99,836, and the number of hours next year is 125,000. Given that increase in efficiency is your point, too, for mobile speed cameras, and if those extra hours are done, how much extra revenue will that bring in?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Hopefully none, because hopefully people will do the right thing.
Mr WINGARD: How much is budgeted to be brought in, given, as you say, extra efficiency and the extra hours?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: A better use of the language would be better reliable information, which leads to greater detection rates rather than greater efficiency. We will need to get that information for you. What I can say is that I can explain why the detection hours actually went down for 2014-15. That is because, essentially, we have made greater use of deployments in country areas. That is where obviously the highest road safety issues are. As a result, it takes a longer time out in the country to set them up.
Mr WINGARD: So, the 125,000 hours is very much achievable in the next financial year, what you have budgeted for?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: That was the target last year, and then for next year as well, so we have not increased it. We achieved less than last year because we deployed more in country areas.
Mr WINGARD: But you expect to meet your target this year, for sure. My last question on this line is Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 128, 'Activity indicators', line 2: 'No. of traffic cautions issued as recorded on expiation notices'. Why were there 2,672 fewer cautions given by SAPOL in the past 12 months?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Can you just clarify, because the figures here—
Mr WINGARD: Yes, 'No. of traffic cautions issues as recorded on expiation notices'—there were 2,672 fewer cautions given out by SAPOL in the past 12 months.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Are you talking financial year?
Mr WINGARD: Yes, in the last financial year.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Our records show that in 2013-14 police issued 44,096 cautions.
Mr WINGARD: For 2013-14 I have 47,067.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The information before me—
Mr WINGARD: Page 128 of the budget papers?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, I am saying we will need to reconcile that figure, but what I can say is that the 2014-15 figure is 52,986, which is a marked increase in cautions issued.
Mr WINGARD: If we can check that out, again, if you want to check the budget papers just to make sure that I am on the right page there, what the budget papers say for mine is, on page 128 of the activity indicators, the second line there, 'No. of traffic cautions issued as recorded on expiation notices', the actual in 2013-14 was 47,067, and the estimated result for 2014-15 is 44,395.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The figure in the budget on page 128, you have the 2013-14 actuals, then if you look at it, it is the estimated result for 2014-15, not the actual result. I can tell you the actual result was 52,986, which shows a marked increase in cautions.
Mr WINGARD: So, since the budget papers were written, that number has changed, so there has been—
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes, and that is why it says 'estimate', and this is an actual.
Mr WINGARD: That is an 8,000 variation in the last month. That is a lot, given the budget papers would have been put together a month ago.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, the budget papers were put together before a month ago. They were put together in March.
Mr GARDNER: They usually estimate quite well, though.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: If you are going to criticise police for actually issuing more cautions than you were saying—
Mr WINGARD: No, I am questioning the budget figures, and I was not privy to that information but, going off that information there, it was quite a substantial difference. I will follow up those official figures from you.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I can assure you that police obviously have targets in terms of transactions, but certainly they also have targets to make sure they actually change behaviour, and cautioning is an important part of changing behaviour. They are certainly encouraged to do so based on their discretion.
Mr WINGARD: If I can get a copy of those updated figures, that would be great.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I am happy to do that.
Mr GARDNER: I go to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 122, cannabis expiation offences, of which there were lots (8,800 or thereabouts). My understanding is that cannabis expiation notices are given to people who are in possession of a quantity of cannabis below the trafficable quantity. Is that correct?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes, that is correct.
Mr GARDNER: Why did the government change the trafficable quantity through regulation, as per last week's Government Gazette, from 100 grams to 250 grams?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I would have to take that on notice and get an answer to you.
Mr GARDNER: How much is the street value of 250 grams of cannabis? To be clear, the definition is:
Cannabis plant material, including flowering and fruiting tops, leaves, seeds or stalks, but not including oil or resin.
Up to 250 grams of that attracts an expiation notice.
The CHAIR: I do not know the street price of cannabis is technically part of the appropriations.
Mr GARDNER: It is strictly, sir, because it is—
The CHAIR: Strictly?
Mr GARDNER: There is an actual budget line identifying. I am trying to work out how many people are going to be captured by those expiation notices next year because they are caught with between 100 and 250 grams of cannabis, whereas previously they would have been charged with—
The CHAIR: I understand that point, but where does the street value of cannabis affect either of those? How does the street value matter? I am asking to be convinced.
Mr GARDNER: The street value matters, sir, because—
The CHAIR: I know it matters in a general sense, but why does it matter to your question?
Mr GARDNER: It matters specifically because it will enable us to assist in finding out how many people are going to be getting these expiation notices. We know how many people are caught with trafficable quantities of cannabis identified by street value. That is in the media, that is in the court papers—
The CHAIR: The trafficable quantity is not based on street value, it is based on weight.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will clarify the issue—
Mr GARDNER: If the minister does not want to answer, I will answer him again on Wednesday; that is fine.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: You can ask me again on Wednesday. I am not in the market for drugs so I do not know what the street value is, and I never have been—
Mr GARDNER: The police commissioner might have some insight, as he has some expertise in this area.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: —but I am happy if you ask me. In terms of the question, if the number of people who may or may not get the offence between 100 and 250 grams, I understand that question. The street value is an entirely different matter, and I am not sure—if it is 250 grams, irrespective of its street value, you are infringing the law, as simple as that. I think that is the point the Chair is trying to make.
The CHAIR: That is exactly right. Feel free to answer the question if you wish, but it is not particularly appropriate to any budget line.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: In relation to the substantive question, I am happy to find that answer for you.
Mr GARDNER: Perhaps I can ask the question in a different way, because we are identifying a significant amount of police resources in the drugs sector. It is one of the objectives of Sub-program 2.1: Crime and Illegal Drugs. The cannabis expiation notices we are talking about carry with them a $300 fine from 25 grams to 100 grams of cannabis, as it was last week, or 25 grams to 250 grams of cannabis as it is since last Thursday. So, for that $300 fine to be a deterrent, if we are talking about a value of cannabis that is in the thousands of dollars, one has to question that. Therefore, we are directly going into the budget line here as to the effective use of the funds, given the government's decision to increase that trafficable quantity.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I think part of the answer—and I will get the full answer for you, as I have indicated—is that, at some point in time we have to make a judgement in terms of how many people are put in the criminal justice system. By going to 250 grams, it gives police a bit more discretional powers in how they actually deal with that particular issue. Police, quite rightly, would say they need to make a judgement as to where they allocated the resources in terms of harm to the community, but I will give you the specific answer. In terms of the question about why it would be done, it would be done just to impart, to make sure that we are using our police for those more serious matters and those things which are a danger to the community, but I will get a full explanation. I will be happy for you to ask me again on Wednesday or Thursday.
Mr GARDNER: I will go to a different budget line: Budget Paper 4, Volume 3 page 121. There are various ways of saying it, but basically the objective is prevention and innovation in volume crime and serious crime trends. In the commissioner's speech to the Press Club last week, one of the things he drew attention to was the rising concern caused by electronic crime, or e-crime. He stressed that many of the people in SAPOL needed to do work in this area and that it might not be the same skill set as one learns at the academy to become a regular constable. Can the minister, or through him the commissioner, if he prefers, identify what extra resources have been devoted to e‑crime in the last few years? Has resourcing been increasing? How hard is it to find the skill set for those roles to serve with SAPOL?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will let the commissioner deal with that.
Cmmr STEVENS : Just in relation to the comments I made at the Press Club, the reality is that technology is featuring in our response to investigating crime, but it is also a feature in terms of the evidence we have to collect from almost all crime scenes now with the prevalence of tablets, smart phones and computers. In response to that, in 2011-12 we put an additional seven FTEs into our e-crime investigations capacity, and in 2013-14 we put in another two people. We are currently reviewing that again to ensure that we have the right sort of resource mix in that particular location.
We have varying levels of expertise that is required to deal with electronic evidence in our e‑crime investigations area and we are able to use operational police who work on the front line in local service areas to assist and support investigators in processing electronic evidence. We also employ people and train them in various aspects of electronic crime so that they can provide the services we require. There is a blend of technical capability and evidentiary analysis capability that is required in a lot of these areas, so it is a role that we see being most relevant for police officers.
Mr GARDNER: I apologise if I missed a specific number in your last answer, but are you able to identify how many staff are working in this area at present?
Cmmr STEVENS : I do not have the exact number of staff working in the e-crime area, but we can provide that number.
Mr GARDNER: Is that a mix of sworn and unsworn officers at present?
Cmmr STEVENS : Yes, it is.
Mr GARDNER: In providing the answer are you able to identify the levels of each?
Cmmr STEVENS : Yes.
Mr GARDNER: What new staff and new skill set do you see as being required for the roles ahead?
Cmmr STEVENS : We are currently doing that sort of analysis to determine what capabilities we require within our e-crime environment. We are currently well served by the police officers who work there supported by our non-sworn staff. I am not aware of any gaps at this point in time in terms of expertise, so I would be working on a business as usual position at this point in time.
Mr GARDNER: In the police commissioner's speech, he talked about the need to deal with what was described as the 'dark net'. What is the government's understanding of the threat and the necessary skill set required to tackle that dark net?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: It is not so much the skill set required, it is more a case of the ease with which people can access that functionality (for want of a better word) on the internet that is a concern. Obviously that is an area in which people trade in all sorts of illicit activity, often in areas of child abuse and child pornography. So it is a concern more about how people can access it. Certainly our staff would have the ability to monitor that.
Mr GARDNER: The police commissioner identified opportunities for police as well as for the criminal underworld as a result of the improved technology. What work is the government doing to investigate or trial predictive policing technology, which is now in operation in a number of jurisdictions overseas?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I actually attended a briefing on predictive policing some time ago. It is certainly something that SAPOL is doing further investigation on. On one level it is a quite exciting area of potential policing, but I am not sure if I have completely got my head around it, how you can actually predict where a crime may be committed. In essence, it is a tool to help resource 'just in time' policing, in effect. In other words, you make some predictions, based on historical data, about who is where and data is collected about which people fit in with this, which events. Through a whole range of formulas you work out where things can be done. I liken it to that TV show that was, I think, called Numbers, if anyone saw that—although I have been told it is a bit more sophisticated than that.
This will very much be a break with traditional policing in the sense that you are moving from reaction to a crime not actually having been committed but waiting for that crime to be committed, and you are there in the right place. We anticipate that predictive policing will actually have a greater deterrent effect on crime because, in effect, we are saying that we know when they are going to commit the crime and we will be there waiting for them.
Mr GARDNER: Is there any specific project being undertaken? If so is there a time after which we will have an understanding of when we might go forward with predictive policing?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Do you want me to make a prediction? I will get the commissioner to provide more detail.
Cmmr STEVENS: As part of our current reform program we are looking at predictive policing technology and, whilst we do not have a particular time frame, we are currently looking at the layers of information that we would want to incorporate into that sort of capacity. As part of this reform we are looking at introducing a centralised command structure and, as part of that, we are looking at predictive analysis technology being built into that. That means we can ensure our patrols are deployed in the right areas, based on that analysis, so that we have the greatest potential to prevent crime. Given the time frames for our reform program, and as an estimation only, we would be looking to perhaps progress this initiative some time during the next 18 months.
Mr GARDNER: I go to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 117, and the activity indicators and the number of, I assume, police incident reports (PIRs) taken by the call centre as a percentage of all reports recorded by police. The actual figure for 2013-14 is 29.4 per cent. Having gone back to previous budget papers, for the previous year it was roughly the same, about 29 per cent of police incidents reports were taken by the call centre. This year, 2014-15, the estimated result is 39.4 per cent, which is a massive increase—
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: And your question is, 'Why?'
Mr GARDNER: We will start with the why and I will make my point afterwards if you like; you have pre-empted me, sir, and I invite you to continue.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Do you want to make your point while we are looking for that answer for you? It might give you more question time.
Mr GARDNER: Sure. One of the recommendations made by the Coroner in the Abrahimzadeh case was that sworn police officers handled calls relating to domestic violence in the call centre. I note the government did not agree to that recommendation, which is the government's prerogative, but given the significant increase in the number of PIRs taken by the call centre as a percentage of all PIRs, I note that if somebody presents at the police station to report a domestic violence incident then they are given the opportunity immediately, one hopes—and I think in practice it is mostly the case—to make a statement directly to a sworn officer. It is different at the call centre. Let's start with why there has been such a massive increase in the number of PIRs taken by the call centre, and we will go from there.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We anticipate, given that the figure was an estimate, that it is unlikely that that estimate will be realised. As of 30 April 2015, the call centre has taken 26,424 police incident reports, which represents 25.1 per cent of all reported crime in South Australia. As a result, we expect the final figure to be rounded down.
Mr GARDNER: Rounded down from 39.4 per cent of the budget to possibly about—
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: To about 30.
Mr GARDNER: About 30?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: Okay; that is an issue for the budget papers then. How many sworn and unsworn officers are taking those calls? Or rather, how many sworn and unsworn officers are in the call centre? I understand the sworn officers are mainly supervisors.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Sworn officers are 14.6 FTEs and unsworn 53.92 FTEs. Sworn are generally supervising staff. There is a chief inspector, sergeants, senior sergeants and senior constables. You may recall that when this came up in parliament, we indicated that the call centre would always be supervised by a senior officer, a sworn officer. That is the case, and obviously if anything needed to be escalated or dealt with differently, there would be a senior officer who would be able to do that.
Mr GARDNER: I understand that, sir. It does remain a divergence from the Coroner's recommendation, but that is your entitlement.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: But we were open about that.
Mr GARDNER: Yes. The performance indicator above, the percentage of call centre calls answered within 20 seconds—and I almost hesitate to ask, in case the estimated result is wildly off again—shows a fairly significant drop off in the percentage of calls answered within 20 seconds, from 91 per cent to 83 per cent. Can we have the actual result for 2014-15, if you have it? If it is, as it appears to be, a significant drop, then why has that drop in immediate call centre calls answered happened?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will ask the commissioner to provide an answer.
Cmmr STEVENS : Thank you. The target for our call centre was adjusted from 90 per cent of calls within 10 seconds to 80 per cent of calls answered within 20 seconds, and the reason for doing that was to ensure a quality approach to eliciting information from callers and processing and managing the report-taking function more accurately. As a result of that, as of 30 April 2015, we were sitting at 84.06 per cent of calls being answered within the 20 second target, which is above our benchmark.
Mr GARDNER: Going to page 122, there are a number of figures in relation to offences recorded against the person. Now, public statements, I think, by the commissioner, by the minister, by the corrections CEO, have suggested that there are higher levels of reporting, higher levels of charging certainly in relation to domestic violence incidents, so my suspicion is that that is probably the basis for a lot of that.
One of the other recommendations of the Abrahimzideh coronial inquest was that all police stations have the facility for a one-on-one interview to take place with an interview room available for victims. Obviously some of the stations where that might have been a problem have been shut down in the last couple of months, where there have been two-person stations with only one room, for example, but there is still a range of small one, two and three-person stations around the state, particularly in country areas. Can you advise if all stations now have that facility for one-to-one interviews in privacy?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I think you have asked this question once or twice before but I am happy to answer it again.
Mr GARDNER: I asked it just after the coronial inquest, I asked it last year in estimates and you said you were looking at ways to do it, but you were going to do it.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No, that is not quite right. The answer I gave then was that the absence of a room itself did not detract from a person being able to deal with it on a one-to-one basis and, if there is not a separate interview room—while that is desirable and I accept that—it does not mean a person cannot get that attention they require, and police will on the spot exercise their judgement as to how that is best dealt with. Given that that is an operational matter, I will ask the commissioner to provide more detail on how they do it on the ground.
Cmmr STEVENS : Thank you. There has been no change to our facilities to increase the number of interview rooms. It is being dealt with through general orders in terms of ensuring people are provided the respect and privacy that they are entitled to when making reports of this type of crime. We are of the view that we are accommodating that respect and privacy through our current practices.
Mr GARDNER: In all of this, one of the major police responses has been the MAPS program. Given that the trial that is taking place at the moment has, I think, 16 police including all of the back office staff, six from education, three from housing, three from corrections, yada, yada, yada, and so forth, Police paying for all of its staff and other agencies paying for their staff but the program is being led by Police, where is it anticipated the funds to pay for these staff will come from moving forward?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: There are two things there. The pilot or trial program, I think from memory finishes at the end of September, and that will be reviewed. In terms of the ongoing staffing and what staffing model we will adopt, it will be based on what we have learnt from the trial, and I am pretty sure that is the end of September, from memory. That is correct.
Anything I would say would be based on just some observations, rather than a full evaluation of the trial at this stage. If additional resources were to be put in, then that is something which the agencies would approach the government about if necessary, and at this point in time, no decision has been made on the future models, but I am happy for the commissioner to add anything he thinks is appropriate.
Cmmr STEVENS : No.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: No he does not have anything.
Mr GARDNER: Just very quickly I would just like to raise one more issue in the minute I have left. Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 113, Workforce Summary. How many police Aboriginal liaison officer positions and traditional community constables are there on the APY Lands and how many of those positions are currently filled? If the answer is three, then are they the same three people who have been the only ones in those roles for the last several years?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Was your question more like, 'Are they the same people?' or was the question, 'Are there any changes?' or was that tongue-in-cheek?
Mr GARDNER: Last year it turned out that there were still three, and they were still the same three people and no-one new who had been able to be identified and, given the time I was offering you, yes, is an answer if that was the case.
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I do not think that has changed.
Mr GARDNER: Are there any night patrols being undertaken on the APY lands?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: I will have to follow that up for you.
Mr GARDNER: In relation to Budget Paper 4, Volume 3, page 124, the number of escapes from police holding facilities—there is one there. Can you please explain the circumstances of the escape: the date, facility and outcome—what happened?
The Hon. A. PICCOLO: We will have to get that information for you.
The CHAIR: Member for Morialta, I think the time has expired. According to the agreed timetable, I declare the examination of the proposed payments to South Australia Police and administered items, South Australia Police, completed. Thank you, minister; thank you to the Commissioner and your staff. In accordance with the agreed timetable the committee stands suspended until 12pm.
Sitting suspended from 11:45 to 12:00.