Originally written by AMI HUMPAGE
REPORTED crime in the Southern Grampians Police Service Area, which includes both the Glenelg and Southern Grampians shires, dropped by more than 23 per cent in the past 12 months — well above the statewide average decrease of 6.4 per cent.
Victoria Police crime statistics for the 2009-10 financial year show that crimes against the person dropped by 32.8 per cent compared with the 2008-09 year; crimes against property recorded a 21.2 per cent decrease, but the biggest drop came from drug offences with a huge 40 per cent decline.
The number of reported assaults was down 23.4 per cent, from 276 reported offences in 2008-09 to 213 in 2009-10; residential burglary dropped by 20.2 per cent, from 102 to 80, while other burglary was down 40.5 per cent, from 150 to 90; property damage was down 11 per cent from 535 reported offences to 480; and thefts of motor vehicles recorded a 7.2 per cent decrease from 31 to 29 offences.
There was also a 30.2 per cent decrease in reported arson offences, from 27 to 19 and a 68.7 per cent decrease in reported sex (non rape) offences (95 in 2008-09 to 30 in 2009-10), although reported rapes increased from five to eight (a jump of 58.8 per cent).
However, there were increases in some crimes: the 2009-10 financial saw thefts of bicycles increase by 54.4 per cent, from 18 to 28; reported robberies increased from two to three (+48.9 per cent); aggravated burglaries increased from three to five (+65.4 per cent); a 7.8 per cent increase in thefts from motor vehicles, from 116 to 126; and a slight increase in shoplifting, from 65 to 67 offences (+2.3 per cent).
Overall there were 2013 offences reported to police in the 2009-10 financial year, compared with 2616 in 2008-09.
Inspector Don Downes of the Victoria Police Southern Grampians PSA said that, while he was happy with the results, police would continue to work towards reducing crime to make both the Southern Grampians and Glenelg shires safer places to live and visit.
He said the police had been running a number of targeted operations using local and external personnel, aimed at reducing incidents of road trauma, crime and public disorder, and had been successful in identifying offences and increasing general safety.
“We continue to focus on areas of crime that impact on our community or represent strongly in the crime data. Theft from motor vehicles and theft of bicycles are two areas that have increased in the reporting period. Plain clothes and uniform police patrols target these crimes.
“Our intelligence indicates many of these offences occur due to unlocked vehicles or unsecured items creating an opportunity for thieves. We are working proactively with the community to increase awareness of security and how people can better protect themselves from crime.”
Inspector Downes said slight increases in robbery and aggravated burglary offences came off a very low base, but were highly important.
All other burglary types reduced significantly, as had assaults.
“These areas are closely linked and are part of the specific tasking in the PSA, which promotes police visibility and plain clothes street patrols.”
He said part of the PSA’s future focus was towards producing greater results in proactive policing.
“Drug offences and other crime are areas we will continue to target and we are combining the resources in the PSA to focus on potential problem areas.”
He said the instigation of a plain clothes unit and support of our divisional resources, including the Divisional Tasking Unit and Crime Prevention Officer, would see further activity in these areas.
Inspector Downes said the newly-created Divisional Sexual Offences Crime Investigation Team had allowed greater flexibility for Crime Investigation Units to centralise their focus on identified crime trends and information received from the public about crime activities.
“We have planned operations for the PSA that will boost police resources and achieve positive results for the community. Our police are encouraged to seek the assistance of partners, stakeholders and the general public as we together seek to make our community an even safer place to live,” Inspector Downes said.