TOTAL crime in the Wellington Shire has risen in the past 12 months.
Reported instances of crime has increased 14.7 per cent according to new figures released by the Crime Statistics Agency last Thursday.
The statistics, which examine offences committed in the year to March 31, 2016, reveal 607 more offences recorded in the Wellington Shire than last year’s figures.
Despite the overall increase, the figures have been described by police as stable over the past 24 months.
The number of assault and related offences is steadily increasing, with 630 recorded compared to 590 in the 2015 statistics and 433 in 2012.
Sexual assault offences have increased by a staggering 94 per cent, with 260 offences recorded in the 2016 data compared to 134 in 2015.
This increased total crimes against the person by 18 per cent since last year’s figures, with 1141 offences recorded in the 2016 data.
Eastern Region Division 6 Local Area Commander Inspector Robert Wallace said the high numbers were caused by an increase in reporting historic sexual offences, as well as sexual offences arising out of family violence reports.
“The majority of assault offences are parties known to each other and are occurring in residential areas, often in people’s homes,” Inspector Wallace said.
“There has also been an increase in family violence assault reports, which is a reflection of people feeling confident in reporting domestic violence now compared to some years ago.”
Wellington Shire has experienced a decrease in dangerous and negligent acts endangering other people, and a further decrease of homicide and related offences with one count of culpable driving recorded.
Drug offences offered the most dramatic results, with drug dealing and trafficking offences increasing by 280 per cent, recording 57 offences compared to the 2015 number of 15.
Drug use and possession is also up 24 per cent, with 189 offences recorded.
Inspector Wallace believes that despite first impressions, the increase is a positive outcome.
“[The increase is] a result of information received from the public and the Dob in a Dealer campaign launched last year,” Inspector Wallace said.
Property and deception offences dropped, with a five per cent decrease on burglary, break and enter, with 443 recorded offences, and a nine per cent decrease in theft with 787 recorded offences.
“A concerted effort by all Wellington members has contributed to this decrease, an intelligence led approach has seen multiple offenders charged,” Inspector Wallace noted.
Wellington’s statistics are relatively consistent with that of the whole of Victoria, with total crime up 12.4 per cent, with 519,130 offences recorded by Victorian Police.
Inspector Wallace commended Wellington police on achieving some excellent results.
“Whilst we would like to see reductions in all areas, it is not always possible,” he said.
“Wellington members are committed to keeping Wellington Shire as an attractive safe place to live and visit.”
A large proportion of this increase (65 per cent) has been attributed to an overall increase in theft, which accounts for almost one in every three recorded offences in Victoria.
Neighbouring Latrobe City has been titled the second highest crime prone local government area, with 18,298.3 offences per 100,000 estimated resident population (up 7.9 per cent from 2015), behind Melbourne at 25,088.1 offences per 100,000 (down 2.7 per cent from 2015).
A more detailed overview of the figures is available on the Crime Statistics Agency website, www.crimestatistics.vic.gov.au.