By Victoria Stone-Meadows
The latest numbers from the Crime Statistics Agency show that overall crime in the City of Casey has increased to almost four times the state average.
Overall criminal offices jumped 12.8 per cent in the 12 months from March 2016 to March 2017, with the rate of crime per 100,000 population increasing by 10.4 per cent.
The City of Casey’s crime rise is significantly higher than the state average, which saw a four per cent increase in crime with the release of the latest statistics.
The biggest increase in crime across the municipality in the year from March 2016 comes in the form of dangerous driving offences.
In the year to March 2016 there were 21 dangerous driving offences, whereas to March 2017 there were 49 dangerous driving offences in Casey.
This jump in offences on our roads accounts for a 133 per cent increase in dangerous driving between March 2016 and March 2017.
Acting Superintendent for Division Three of the Southern Metro Region, Simon Humphrey, said the figures were positive for highway patrol units.
“There has been a strong commitment and focus on road trauma reduction in Casey and surrounding areas,” he said.
“Often an increase in these types of offences is reflective of increased effort by police.”
“Casey has been fortunate to have State Highway Patrol resources deployed into the area to complement our local Highway Patrol and this will continue.”
However, justice regulation offences are down across the municipality with more people complying with their bail conditions and fewer people breaching court imposed orders.
Between March 2016 and March 2017, 156 fewer people breached court imposed intervention orders in the City of Casey, bringing the total down by just under 60 per cent.
Similarly, there were 216 fewer cases of people breaching their bail conditions, bringing the total bail breaches in Casey down 58 per cent.
While crimes against the person, including assaults, abductions and sexual offences have increased in Casey, violent crimes against emergency personnel have fallen.
Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 35 per cent increase in common assaults and an almost 70 per cent increase in people throwing objects and endangering others.
Aggravated burglaries have increased in the most recent data with the 12 months to March 2016 recording 267 instances and March 2017 recording 358 aggravated burglary offences in the municipality.
“We understand the community’s concerns about aggravated burglaries increasing and Casey police are committed to getting on top of this issue,” Act Supt Humphrey said.
“While this type of offence is not common and the chances of it happening to you are extremely low, there have been a number of violent attacks on innocent people within their own home.
“Significant resources have been invested with the creation of specific teams of detectives to investigate these offences and over the last two years we have doubled the number of offenders arrested for this type of crime.”
Act Supt Humphrey said it was everyone’s responsibility to keep their homes and possessions secure, and to protect themselves from crime.
“We want to remind the community that there are steps you can take to enhance the safety of yourself and your property,” he said.
“Make your house difficult to break into by locking lock all your doors and windows and consider home security systems such as CCTV and alarms.”
Figures also show there has been a significant drop in harassment offences with the year to March 2016 recording 217 such offences and the year to March 2017 only recording 93.
Both thefts from cars and thefts of cars have increased, with people stealing from others’ cars up by 25 per cent and people stealing whole cars 34 per cent.
Act Supt Humphrey said the rise in thefts from cars in the municipality was in line with a similar trend all across Victoria.
“Theft of number plates in particular has increased across the state, particularly through the middle part of 2016,” he said.
“We have improved our tasking of police resources to prevent and disrupt these type of offences and have developed strategies to target high-risk recidivist offenders.”
Graffiti in the City of Casey is also down, with the most recent statistics showing there has been a 25 per cent drop in the number of graffiti offences from 111 in the 12 months to March 2016 to 84 to March 2017.
Drugs and weapons offences have continued to fall, with fewer offences in both areas of crime in Casey between March 2016 and 2017.
Drug dealing and trafficking in Casey fell by 20 per cent, while cultivation and manufacture of drugs fell by almost 30 per cent.
However, people being caught with illicit drugs in their possession in Casey has remained steady with the 12 months to Match 2016 recording 978 cases of drug possession and to March 2017 recording 984 cases.
Act Supt Humphrey said the increase in crime in the region was in line with the population growth and as the City of Casey grew, the crime in the area would level out to an expected level.
“Areas of land that were open paddocks a few years ago are now full of houses, so unfortunately the opportunity to commit property crime exists,” he said.
“There is no doubt that we were seeing some increases in crime, particularly in vehicle related theft, for much of last year.”
“But in the latter parts of 2016 we saw crime rates begin to level out and we are now seeing something of a downturn.”
Act Supt Humphrey said dedicated police in the Casey region were doing everything they could to stop criminals in their tracks and expected to see crime decreasing in the coming years.
“The community can be assured that Casey police are committed to preventing and disrupting crime in the community,” he said.
“We are confident we are on the right track and expect that data in the next quarter will start to reflect this.”