SEXUAL offences have risen significantly in all but one Wimmera municipality.
The latest data released from the Crime Statistics Agency showed reported sexual offences was up 142.9 per cent in Hindmarsh Shire from 14, in the year ending December 2015, to 34 for the same period in 2016.
Sexual offences in the Northern Grampians Shire rose 45.7 per cent from 35 to 51 reports; West Wimmera 30.8 per cent from 13 to 17 offences; Yarriambiack 65.2 per cent from 23 to 38; and Ararat Rural City had a 17.1 per cent increase in sexual offences, with 48 reported.
Only Horsham Rural City saw a decrease in sexual offences from 99 to 77 – a drop of 22.2 per cent.
Wimmera Superintendent Paul Margetts said the rise in sexual offences mostly reflected historic reporting in light of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
“It’s concerning but it’s also great that victims feel comfortable they can come forward and report to the police,” he said.
“It gives us that opportunity to meet the need and put in place support services.
“These days with the victim-centric approach to policing it doesn’t necessarily mean prosecution will be initiated but reporting is an important first step in helping victims move forward with their lives.”
Crime rose eight per cent in the Northern Grampians police service area but decreased across the Horsham police area by 0.8 per cent.
Superintendent Margetts said he was happy with performances across both police areas.
“Horsham’s drop is a result of really active police work within the community around theft from, and of, motor vehicles and property damage, they’re all down on the previous 12 months as a result of operations and offenders who are charged and taken to court,” he said.
“I think overall our actual crime is quite low compared with other areas across the state and our communities are really safe.”
Northern Grampians saw a rise in homicide and related offences, from zero to two. Drug use and possession rose 102.8 per cent from 141 offences to 286 and the cultivation and manufacturing of drug offences rose 54.5 per cent from 11 to 17.
Superintendent Margetts said a number of warrants were executed in Stawell, St Arnaud and Ararat relating to cannabis cultivation.
Robbery offences rose 66.7 per cent, from three to five, abduction and related offences rose 50 per cent from two to three cases.
Assault and related offences jumped 25.2 offences from 385 to 482 with weapons and explosive offences rising 15.8 per cent from 101 to 117.
Superintendent Margetts said the rise in assaults and weapons offences was linked to Ararat’s Hopkins Correctional Centre.
“The main driver behind the rise is assaults within the prison population at Hopkins Correctional Centre,” he said.
“Another part relates to a new offence – evading police in a motor vehicle – which sits under the assault category and has been in place for about 12 months.
“It’s an offences to carry any weapon onto Corrections Victoria property, even in a car parked in the car park.
“Another part relates to searches on the Western Highway.”
Across the Northern Grampians police service area total offences increased from 2965 to 3201.
Drug dealing and trafficking was down 46.4 per cent, from 56 to 30 offences, arson down 44.3 per cent from 97 to 54 and deception offences dropped from 99 to 74.
Justice procedure offences rose 53.2 per cent, from 631 to 412.
In the Horsham police area, robbery offences were up from one to five offences – an increase of 400 per cent.
Dangerous and negligent acts endangering people increased 76 per cent from 25 to 44 offences, theft up 19.2 per cent from 595 to 709 and cultivate and manufacture drugs offences increased from 11 to 16 offences, up 45.5 per cent.
Overall the Horsham area saw drug dealing and trafficking down 56.5 per cent from 23 to 10.