Firearm theft rate increases

THE number of firearms stolen within the past eight months is only 10 fewer than the number stolen in an entire year, two years ago.

The latest Tasmania Police data shows there were 179 firearms stolen statewide between July 1 and February 28, compared with 189 stolen in 2011-12.

The most recent theft was of 13 registered firearms from a Newnham house last week.

Tasmania Police command has maintained that there is no evidence of any breach of its firearms database.

February financial year-to-date police statistics also reveal that incidents involving an unlawful discharge of a firearm have spiked, from two in the last reporting period, to 14.

However, people injured resulting from firearms offending remains steady, at seven in each reporting period.

Police union leader Pat Allen said the firearm theft rate was a worrying figure, but police were doing the best they could with what they had.

He said more resources, as promised by the new government, would make things better.

The police union met Police Minister Rene Hidding last week.

Constable Allen said the meeting was cordial and productive.

He said he was as confident as he could be that police numbers would be fully restored by the end of the government's first term in office.

Mr Hidding said in relation to police numbers that the government would honour ``all election promises''.

``We make no apology for being tough on crime,'' Mr Hidding said.

``We promised to restore police numbers to 1228 and that is what we are going to do.

``More police will allow us to better deal with serious issues like gun thefts and will lead to improved crime clear-up rates.''

The police union has planned to meet the minister monthly.

Constable Allen said he did not expect everything to change overnight, but he was hopeful of an extra recruit course this year.

He said he also hoped that backroom public servants would not be cut from the police service.

The new government has also promised to re-establish specialised units cut by the previous government, such as the Public Order Response Team, and to introduce a new Serious and Organised Crime Unit.

Email: ctang@examiner.com.au

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