By Poppy Morandin.
Recent release of crime statistics detailing a quarterly update for this year, have revealed that crime across most of NSW has remained stable or fallen in the two years to June 2020.
A major exception to this finding was within the crime category of sexual assault, which has risen 9.4% over the last two years.
“It appears that at least some of the increase in sexual assault is related to an increase in secondary and mandatory reporting of child sexual assault. We will continue to closely monitor trends in this offence.” commented Executive Director of Bureau of Crimes Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Jackie Fitzgerald in response to the trend.
The categories that have fallen over the last two years include robbery without a weapon, stealing from a motor vehicle, stealing from a person, and malicious damage to property.
The highest among these drops is stealing from a person, down by 25.4%.
The pandemic seems to have had an evident impact on crime patterns, as found by the BOSCAR, in its previous report in April.
Focusing specifically on Greater Sydney, domestic violence assaults saw a significant upward trend, rising by almost 175 additional incidents in Parramatta in the past two years.
In the areas of Baulkham Hills and the Hawkesbury, rates rose by 32.7% which amounts to a further 123 additional incidents.
Regional NSW saw significant increase in regard to incidents of sexual assault, including the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven which was up 63.9%.
Trends in violent and property crime have revealed that the Dubbo Regional area has experienced a 6.9% rise in violent offences over 5 years, with higher rates in violent and property offences than most of NSW.
“What you see is evidence of this crisis in respect of methamphetamine use continuing to play out in statistics…also a continuation of entrenched high crime rates, particularly in regional areas with high rates of aboriginal overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.” commented Deputy Mayor of Dubbo and barrister Stephen Lawrence.
“The Dubbo region is going to have a lot of similarities with a wide range of local government areas across the state, particularly local government areas with significant issues in respect of Aboriginal over-representation in the criminal justice system.” he continued.
Dubbo experienced a 13.3% rise in the possession and/or use of narcotics, and a 11.7% rise in the possession and/or use of cannabis over the past 5 years.
Despite recommendations from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the drug ‘ice’ highlighting that Dubbo is in need of a drug rehabilitation centre and a drug court, action has been largely neglected by the state government.
“On a fundamental level they proposed that it be treated as a health issue.” explained Mr Lawrence
“In terms of the illicit drug problem, we need to target our policing resources more effectively…we need to focus on those who are profiting from the distribution of illicit drugs rather than those using them and in respect of people using them we need to take a health focused approach.” explained Mr Lawrence.
“These are things that many political leaders will pay lip service, we see a continued failure to commit anywhere near the amount of resources needed to drug treatment. The different levels of government have failed completely to step up to the plate in terms of meaningfully allocating resources to address these fundamental problems.” he continued.
Instances of domestic violence, as well as break and enters, which are 3.5 times the NSW rate in Dubbo, have been correlated to such substance issues.
“The state governments record in addressing criminal offending is not all bad, it’s quite mixed. This state government, and frankly it’s as much an economic or financial position than anything else, has tried to implement reform to focus more on rehabilitation and support in the community.” Mr Lawrence contended.
In its quarterly update regarding custody statistics, BOSCAR found that the NSW Prison population has declined by 11% in response to the threat of COVID-19.
“In some ways the trends that have manifested during the pandemic are continuations of trends that had begun prior but in an accelerated fashion.
Bail laws were liberalised in 2013, there was a bit of swing back when the show cause requirements were introduced in 2015, but fundamentally there has been a liberalisation. It’s happening across the Western world and it’s driven by economic factors.” explained Mr Lawrence.
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