Crime figures are up

CRIME statistics for 2015 were released on Thursday, showing increases in almost all offence categories in the Wellington police service area.

Crimes against the person increased from 888 in 2014 to 1057 last year, drug offences increased from 181 to 232, public order and security offences increased from 371 to 408 and justice procedure offences were up from 586 to 811.

There was a slight decrease in property and deception offences, with 1989 offences detected last year, down from 2000 in 2014.

Total offences in the Wellington police service area increased from 4038 in 2014, to 4522 in 2015.

Statewide, there were 497,116 offences recorded last year, up 9.2 per cent from the year before.

The top five offence subdivisions in the Wellington police service area were theft with 805 offences, breaches of orders on 668, assault and related offences 625, property damage 496 and burglary and break and enter 493.

Despite recording the highest number of offences, thefts in the Wellington police service area have declined considerably since 2013.

Victoria Police local area commander Inspector Rob Wallace said some thefts were opportunistic and encouraged residents and business owners to ensure their properties were secure.

“We’ve had crews from different areas coming through stealing x amount of things and then leaving again,” he said.

Inspector Wallace said alcohol theft had been an issue in the area, with people thieving from local liquor outlets, as well as other retail stores.

He said police were taking steps to help prevent crime within the community, with crime prevention officer Leading Senior Constable Kim Kell speaking to local retailers about prevention measures.

“We process a lot of offenders for theft, and that’s identified through the public and through CCTV,” he said.

“We’ve had some excellent results.”

Inspector Wallace said often single offenders were processed for several theft offences.

Assault and related offences increased by 95 offences from 530 in 2014 to 625 last year, and there were 202 sexual offences, up from 138 in 2014.

There were also 189 stalking and harassment offences last year, up from 158 in 2014.

He said there had been a handful of serious affray incidents in the area and one at Fulham prison last year which had led to multiple offences being recorded.

“An incident can bring out multiple offences and that’s generally what happens,” he said.

“Our assaults are actually tracking reasonably well and, as I mentioned, the good thing is (if there is a good thing with assaults), it is parties known to each other.

“There are very few random assaults.”

Inspector Wallace said some sexual assaults recorded resulted from family violence issues and historic sexual assault incidents, which he encouraged people to continue reporting.

“It’s not about numbers, it’s actually a good thing if people are reporting those types of things,” he said.

“People should have confidence to report those things to police, who will actually take action.”

Statewide there were 74,385 family incidents recorded last year, an increase of 9.2 per cent from the previous year.

“Including family violence, assaults account for some of the increased reporting we’ve had in recent years,” he said.

Breaches of orders increased significantly, with the number of offences climbing from 462 in 2014 to 668 in 2015.

Drug offences also showed substantial increases.

Drug dealing and trafficking offences increased from 15 offences in 2014 to 53 last year, and drug use and possession and offences rose from 146 to 165, while cultivation or manufacturing drugs decreased from 20 offences to 14.

Inspector Wallace said some increases in drug offences could be attributed to the Dob in a Dealer program rolled out in Wellington last year, as well as investigative police work.

“An increase in drug offences is a good thing because we’re detecting the offence,” he said.

“So any increase in drug offences is a positive, because it’s more drugs we’re taking off the street.”

The crime statistics were released by the Crime Statistics Agency for the year ending December 31, 2015.