THE Bendigo region has seen an almost 20 per cent rise in the total amount of offences in the past year.
The 16.7 per cent rise is 10 times higher than the state’s average of 1.6 per cent.
Bendigo Inspector Brad Dixon said the 22.9 per cent rise in assaults was the most concerning part of the region’s 2012-2013 Victoria Police annual crime statistics, released yesterday morning.
He said Bendigo police would adjust their rosters and target specific areas to help reduce assault excluding family violence, which was up 6.6 per cent this year.
“These assaults are mostly fuelled by alcohol and drugs, mainly ice, and we will continue to saturate high peak areas in the CBD and around nightclubs,” Inspector Dixon said.
“We need to keep on top of what we’re doing and target more specific locations and have high visibility earlier in the day.
“We are concerned about the rise and it’d be nice to have a police officer on every corner, but we have enough staff to effectively deal with this problem. We just need to target the right areas.
“It is really a society issue – a community responsibility – so education and support is key.”
Inspector Dixon said it was no longer an excuse to say the rise in family violence was due to an increase in reporting.
“We’ve been riding on that for a while and we do want to see that plateau now,” he said. “We have put good processes in place, but it is difficult to manage that entirely from a policing point of view.”
The total number of offences recorded from July last year to
June 30 this year was 7779, up from 6559 last year.
But Inspector Dixon said the significant rise was skewed because of 800 offences recorded from one offender.
“Without these offences, we are pretty much running level with crime overall from last year,” he said.
Inspector Dixon said their were also several “good rises” recorded in the region – including the rise in drugs and other crime.
“This shows that we are detecting more drugs and putting an emphasis on it,” he said.
“The other crimes are ones generated by us, such as breaching orders and poor public behaviour, so that tells us that we’re doing our job properly.”
Inspector Dixon also noted the decrease in burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles.
“This shows us that our high visibility police presence is working in the region,” he said.
“There has definitely been some significant gains in a lot of areas – we just need to keep working at our response to assaults.”
Member for Bendigo East and opposition police spokeswoman Jacinta Allan said the “dramatic jump” in Bendigo’s crime rate was a direct result of Premier Denis Napthine cutting the Victoria Police budget by $100 million and slashing 400 jobs.
“It is clear from these figures that this is having a significant impact on tackling crime in Bendigo,” she said.
“Under Labor, crime rates went down by 30 per cent across the state while an additional 2000 police were employed.”