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17 January 2012 | Australia

More arrested for Pedestrian Offences than for Serious Crime

POLICE have fined more Victorians for pedestrian offences than they have nabbed for serious crimes such as stealing cars.

More than 5800 fines worth $357,313 were issued to pedestrians by Victoria Police in the 2010/11 financial year.

But police statistics show only 4186 people were charged for vehicle theft - despite 14,370 cars being reported stolen that year.

The revelation that police pursued more pedestrian offenders than car thieves has sparked a backlash.

They include Institute of Public Affairs review editor James Paterson, who slammed the police for fining jaywalkers, saying it was a waste of the authorities' resources and time.

"I think this is crazy. As an individual if you cross when the little green man is not flashing you hold the responsibility and pay the cost," Mr Paterson said.

"We should be deploying police to solve rapes and robberies, not to fine people for walking across a road.

"This is a complete waste of police resources."

The most common offence that resulted in a fine was failing to obey traffic lights and signs. Other charges included meandering on the road and walking on bike paths.

More than $900,000 worth of fines for common offences were issued in the past three financial years, but Victoria Police Supt Neville Taylor defended the number.

He said 50 pedestrians died in Victoria last year, an increase of 28 per cent compared with 2010 and said more crackdowns were planned for this year.

"As long as this is a growing issue we will up the ante," Supt Taylor said.

"You would not drive a car through a red light, but people (pedestrians) totally disregard the little red man.

"I make no apologies to anyone who is embarrassed by being stopped by the police in public and issued a fine."

Former Victorian assistant commissioner and WA police commissioner Bob Falconer supported an increase of fines and said pedestrians were not being responsible for their safety.

"If we even look beyond the deaths to people who are injured, there are huge economic and social costs," Mr Falconer said.

"I support this - these are laws that keep people safe."

COST OF NOT TOEING THE LINE

  • The total bill for pedestrian offences 2010/11: $357,313
  • 21 people fined for not obeying a traffic direction of the police: $5019
  • 4948 people failed to obey traffic lights: $296,880
  • 277 people were fined for walking on a road inappropriately: $16,620
  • 4 people exited or entered a moving vehicle: $240
  • 175 people crossed a road within 20m of a crossing: $10,500
  • 75 people crossed inappropriately level crossing: $4500
  • 4 people didn't give way on a bike path: $240
  • 298 hitchhikers and window cleaners fined: $17,880
  • 26 failed to obey a pedestrian sign: $5434

Source: Herald Sun