Crime figures are up, but thefts are down

CRIME statistics released last Thursday showed an increase in almost all offence categories in the Wellington police service area in 2014-2015.

Total offences increased from 4044 in 2012-13, to 4295 in 2013-14, up 251 offences, while total offences in 2014-15 were 4339, an increase of 44 offences.

Property and deception offences recorded decreases across all sub-categories including deception, theft, burglary, property damage and arson.

Despite a steady decline since 2012-13, theft still recorded the highest number of offences, with 790.

The next highest was assault and related offences, with 629.

Public order and security offences and justice procedure offences showed significant increases across all subdivisions, with breaches of orders recording an increase of 146 offences from the same period last year.

Assault and stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour offences also showed substantial increases.

Victoria Police Eastern Region Division Six Superintendent Bradley Dixon said family violence reports were a major contributor to assault figures.

“Most of our assaults are between people known to each other in private residences, affected by drugs or alcohol which they consume at home,” he said.

“This is the case with both family violence and non-family violence offences.

“Random street assaults are very rare these days, and so are assaults in places such as licensed premises.

“The latest National Survey showed that 99.2 per cent of people in Wellington felt safe walking in their neighbourhood during the day, and for the three quarters before that it was 100 per cent.

“I think this reflects how safe our streets are.”

Superintendent Dixon said assault figures had also been boosted by a serious affray which involved just under 50 offences.

He said the rise in some reporting, such as family violence, could be seen as a good thing.

“Whilst increases are still seen as a positive due to better reporting, at some stage I’d love to see this category drop,” he said.

Overall, Superintendent Dixon said he was satisfied with the results.

“I think an overall increase of 44 offences is a very good result,” he said.

“I think we have used our available resources in Wellington really well to address our crime and road policing priorities.

“There are, however, some concerning trends in crime which are our priorities going into the next 12 months.”

Superintendent Dixon said the main theft categories, including theft from a motor vehicle, theft of a motor vehicle and theft (other) were always a priority, because of the larger numbers of incidents and distress to victims.

These offences, along with burglaries, will continue to be a priority area for local police,” he said.

“We are included in the state-wide trend of rising burglaries to non-residential buildings, and this is another focus for us.

“The frustrating thing for us as police is that although we know it is a significant offence in terms of numbers, a lot of the crimes can be avoided by people securing their property.

“It is generally an opportunistic crime, and if we make it harder for people to steal stuff, we will see this number drop.”

Drug dealing and trafficking offences were up, with 54 offences recorded in 2014-15, up from 16 in 2013-2014, and drug use and possession, 169 in 2014-15, up from 149 in 2013-14.

Superintendent Dixon said increased drug seizures had been a direct result of police focus, including intelligence gathered through programs such as Dob in a Dealer.

He said police had a strong focus on combating drug-related crime as drugs were a significant driver of other crime.

Cultivating or manufacturing drug offences were down to 15 offences from 22 in 2013-14.

Superintendent Dixon said this could be attributed to the increased police focus on amphetamine-type substances.

He said police would continue to monitor amphetamines and other drug issues, however police would be refocusing on targeting crimes relating to cannabis during the next 12 months.

The crime statistics were released by the Crime Statistics Agency for the year ending September 30, 2015.