New BOCSAR study puts police staffing levels in focus

Nick Bielby

Extra police on the beat will more likely reduce crime rates through prevention rather than increased arrest rates, according to a new study from the state's crime research body.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) released its findings in a report titled 'The effect of police on crime and arrests: Are police deterring or incapacitating criminals?' on Thursday.

The data was compiled in a study that began in the lead-up to the 2003 NSW election when there was a 7.2 per cent increase in the number of officers employed in the state's police force - about 10 extra per police district.

The study found that a one per cent increase in officer numbers led to just less than a one per cent drop in thefts and a 1.1 per cent decrease in car thefts, but no change in arrest rate, which showed the changes were "driven by deterrence rather than incapacitation".

The report's author Steve Yeong wrote that deterrence was "generally considered favourable to incapacitation given the social and economic costs associated with incarcerating an individual".

"The implications of the present study are threefold," he wrote.

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