CRIME across the Mornington Peninsula jumped 10.9 per cent over the past 12 months – much higher than the 3.7 per cent increase for Victoria as a whole – with drug offences, robbery and thefts from vehicles leading the way.
Victoria Police statistics released last week for the year 2013-14 to 30 June reveal drug offences were up 8.3 per cent compared to the previous year, from 377 to 412 incidents.
Percentage changes are calculated as a rate per 100,000 people to give a uniform snapshot of crime across all regions.
Thefts from vehicles surged 20.2 per cent, to 1188 reported offences in 2013-14 and vehicle thefts were up 31.8 per cent to 318.
Mornington Peninsula Local Area Commander Karen Nyholm said the “crimes against property” category showed “a disappointing result”.
“Police have dedicated resourcing in these areas, and whilst making numerous arrests, still are yet to impact the prevalence of this crime in our community,” she said.
“You can greatly diminish the chances of being a victim of these types of crime by taking simple precautionary actions – securing your home, locking your car and removing valuables.”
Residential burglaries were up an alarming 12.2 per cent, from 665 in 2012-13 to 746 in 2013-14.
Inspector Nyholm was “pleased” that crimes against the person, including robberies and assaults, fell 5.6 per cent from 1356 in 2012-13 to 1280.
Ms Nyholm said: “A continued focus by police on both family violence and non-family violence incidents has resulted in fewer victims, less injuries and improved safety for individuals and the overall community.”
She said “one victim is too many” and police will commit to further work to protect vulnerable people by targeting those responsible.
“Focus on prevention can be valuable in this area. By listening to our victims, we will be able to determine how best we can support them,” she said.
“Referrals, case conferences, investigation updates and prosecutorial support are some of the areas where we can build confidence and resilience in our victims.”
The behaviour of repeat offenders will be a particular focus for police to protect victims.
While assaults in general fell from 1051 in 2012-13 to 1046 in 2013-14, reported family violence incidents rose slightly from 489 to 496.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said the reporting of family violence to police had greatly increased in recent years.
He said police responded to 65,000 reported incidents across Victoria in 2013-14 but said it was a positive that people felt they could report such cases and expect action to be taken.
“It puts enormous pressure on our figures but I think it’s a very good thing,” he said.
About 30,000 charges were laid as a result of the 65,000 reported family violence incidents, according to Mr Lay.
He also noted an increase in the reporting of “historical sexual assault offences” and said this may be due to recent high-profile cases and recent public enquiries into sexual abuse.
He said 40 per cent of sexual assaults reported in the past 12 months were of a historical nature.
“I am pleased to say these victims are putting their trust in Victoria Police and bringing it to our notice,” he said.
“We are investigating and charging people.”
Crime is set to become a political battlefront in the lead-up to November’s state election.
Both the Coalition and Labor have pledged to “get tough” on dealers of the drug ice, with Labor vowing anyone caught supplying the drug to school students will face up to 20 years in jail.