Fund established to target street crime and gang violence
THE Federal Government will use the money confiscated from the nation's criminals to fund a $40 million crime prevention program.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard was joined by Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare in Sydney's west on Friday to announce the establishment of the National Crime Prevention Fund, the third component of the government's law and order plan targeting street crime and gang violence across Australia.
While the bulk of the money will be available in the form of grants to local councils and not-for-profit organisations to install closed-circuit televisions and extra lighting in the nation's crime hot spots, $10 million will go to youth mentoring and outreach programs.
Father Chris Riley will get $5 million to expand his successful Youth Off The Streets Outreach Service, while the other $5 million will go to the Police Citizens Youth Clubs and Blue Light organisations.
"This is about targeting young people at risk of falling through the cracks; the next generation of young people," Mr Clare said.
Ms Gillard's plan for national anti-gang and unexplained wealth laws and reforms to the illegal firearms market will be high on the agenda at next week's Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra.
These laws would give police more powers to break up gangs, seize their firearms and assets.
"I want to assure my state and territory colleagues that nothing about having national laws is about the Federal Government looking to take money that is currently flowing to state and territory governments because they've cracked down on crime in their jurisdiction," Ms Gillard said.
"We'd make sure that crime money that is got through new laws is fairly shared around the nation and the more states go out and catch criminals and find this wealth, the more money they will get."
But the Opposition accused the government of committing a crime of its own - policy theft.
Acting justice spokesman Scott Morrison said the government's plan was a direct lift of the Coalition's $50 million Plan For Safer Streets policy announced last year.
Under the Coalition plan grants would be available to install better lighting, CCTV and mobile CCTV in known crime hotspots.
But that's not where the similarities ended, Mr Morrison said.
"The Coalition also announced last year that we will reverse Labor's decision to prop up its budget by freezing almost $60 million collected from criminals under Proceeds of Crime laws and return this money to the community," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Clare said the Opposition policy was too restrictive.
"Mr Abbott's (policy) focused on closed circuit television cameras. My view is that you can't be specific; local communities know what they need," he said.
"It's local solutions for local problems; we shouldn't be prescriptive and what this fund will do is allow local communities to make an application for what they need. That includes local councils and local youth organisations."
Applications for National Crime Prevention Fund grants will open in the first week of May and projects must be completed by the end of June 2015.