Crime rates down locally

CRIMINAL incidents and recorded offences have fallen by 23 per cent in the year to December 2017 in Wellington Shire, according to the latest crime statistics.

Statewide, there was an 8.6 per cent drop in the number of offences and a 9.9 per cent decrease in the offence rate.

Wellington police service area commander Inspector Scott Brennan attributed the reduction to successful new proactive strategies.

He pointed out that the drop would not mean police would slow down, but said it was good to see the direction the figures were heading.

Recorded offences were substantially down, from 4749 to 3677, and criminal incidents were down from 3321 to 2733.

The only category that rose was property damage, which saw 20 more criminal incidents and 16 more recorded offences in 2017 from 2016.

Criminal incidents involving assaults and related offences fell by more than 50 to 398.

An interesting part of the latest statistics is that numbers from prisons, including Fulham Correctional Centre, are no longer included.

“With the prison, we don’t have any control over what goes on there, it’s hard for us to influence behaviour there,” Inspector Brennan said.

“What happens outside the prison we do have some influence in, and we’ve had some specific strategies to target that issue — we’re keeping an eye on alcohol-related violence and licensed premises, and aiming for behavioural change with family violence.”

Combined drug offences also fell, but may rise in the next release of figures, following last month’s blitz on dealers, which saw several raids and more than a dozen arrests.

“Instead of trying to punish low level users, we’re trying to look at the people who profit, and trying to remove the source of drugs from our community,” he said.

“The information we get from members of the public — you can ring and not give your name — you can be assured we’ll look at it and pay the appropriate attention, we do rely on information from the community to address that issue.”

Family violence remains a persistent problem, but Inspector Brennan said he was confident that a new crop of detectives stationed in Sale would help.

“They’ll be investigating family violence as a crime, and as a result of that, they’ll hopefully keep pushing the cultural change, that it is a crime and it’s not acceptable,” he said.

“(The detectives) will be addressing serious crime and repeat offenders, so proactive policing as well as reactive, reducing harm that’s been caused.”

Inspector Brennan was especially enthusiastic about proactive policing, and getting support agencies and the community involved.

“By working with the community and service agencies, including working with the council in regard to new projects where they design new infrastructure, that they’re safe and discourage anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“You can look at the skate park, that’s used predominately by youth, and traditionally you might associate youth with lower level property damage like graffiti, but it’s actually being used well and hasn’t been damaged.”

Inspector Brennan said the community had the right to feel safe, and the police were doing everything they could to facilitate that.

“We’re not going to be taking our foot off the accelerator because we’ve had some good results — we want Wellington to be one of the safest places to be,” he said.

“I want it to be that if you want to go down the street and you decide to walk to the shops, you feel safe and comfortable regardless of the time of day, and you don’t have to take precautions, that’s my aim.”