Opinion

Editorial: Crime stats hard to read

By Shepparton News

It is somewhat difficult to get a read on exactly what the latest release of Crime Statistics Agency data means for Shepparton.

The statistics place Greater Shepparton in the top five local government areas with the highest criminal incident rates and the highest recorded offence rates for the year ended March 31.

The data showed there has been a 3.4 per cent increase in criminal incident rates and a nine per cent increase in recorded offence rates.

More specifically, there is some areas of concern.

These include an increase in drug-related offences to 675, compared with 464 the previous year.

A 14.5 per cent increase in reports of family violence was also reported.

The statistics tell different stories depending on which lens you look at them through.

On the surface of it, the data does not paint a great picture of Shepparton in relation to crime.

It can lead to commentary — often from politicians in opposition — who use the opportunity for political purposes and to state that Victorians are, in general, less safe.

This is not necessarily the case.

For example, an increase in the amount of reported drug-related offences does not necessarily mean there is more of these type of offences being committed.

While there are many factors involved, one could be an increased police focus on these offences, leading to a spike in the statistics.

Many would suggest this is a good thing and one that makes our community safer.

Similarly, an increase in the amount of reports of family violence incidents does not necessarily mean this is happening more.

However, it could reflect the fact that affected people are feeling more comfortable within the system and more empowered to report such behaviour.

Again, we are sure most would say this is a positive.

Like the media, the statistics are something that we are sure police, government and policymakers analyse intensively.

Locally, we believe our police are doing everything possible to address crime through communication, education, engagement and various preventive measures.