Wimmera police target repeat offenders

WIMMERA police have put repeat crime offenders on notice.

Police are targeting recidivist offenders, repeat victims and family violence as part of the statewide Operation Bia.

Non-compliance with bail conditions is also a focus of the operation.

Wimmera Superintendent Graeme Arthur said the operation was part of a new focus to drive down crime.

"We have found that 10 per cent of offenders commit about 80 per cent of the offences," he said.

"These are the people we are focused on. These people are the same ones who continually drive while disqualified and put others at risk, the same people who are probably using drugs and drug and drink drive and the same people involved in assaults and family violence.

"Across a range of things, we are finding the same people are responsible.

"We are physically going out and targeting these people."

Mr Arthur said family violence in the Wimmera was a major contributor to the assault category.

"There is currently a 67 per cent increase in assaults," he said. "At least 40 to 50 per cent of those are family-violence related.

"But the actual numbers in the Wimmera are very low compared with other areas.

"In July when the stats came out we had a 267 per cent increase in assaults compared with July 2011. That was because in July 2011 we had eight assaults and in July 2012 we had 28.

"They are low numbers but because our statistics are based on percentages, we have huge fluctuations in some cases."

Mr Arthur said police charged a person in Horsham last year with 144 offences, which dramatically increased the percentage.

"You actually have to know what the numbers are," he said. "Crime statistics can also be driven by police arrests.

"People have to be careful when they look at statistics. They might say 'Wow, that's gone up by 50 per cent' but it could be because we've executed a lot of drug warrants and arrested people."

Mr Arthur said senior members of staff would report to Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay weekly about Operation Bia and the results.

He said police would also be focusing on stringent bail conditions when repeat offenders appeared before the courts.

"There is clear evidence it's actually working," he said.

"The people who commit these offences and have priors can be put on notice you will be a focus and specifically targeted."

Wimmera police are also part of a television campaign, Speak Out Against Violence, to encourage the Aboriginal community to stand up against family violence and sexual assault.

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