Victoria’s crime rate rises on the back of 32,000 lockdown breaches

Victoria’s crime rate jumped 2.7 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 32,000 public health fines fuelling the rise.

New data released on Thursday shows more than 32,000 lockdown breaches were recorded in the 12 months to September 2020 following the creation of six new public health and safety offences.

Protective Services Officers patrolling and issuing fines in Melbourne’s CBD.Credit:Simon Schluter 

This included 29,223 fines being issued to those caught flouting the Chief Health Officer’s stay at home directions, alongside 66 body corporates.

A further 3337 fines were issued to Victorians caught without mandatory face masks during the second half of the state’s strict lockdown measures.

Police also recorded 34 offences against those who failed to comply with self-isolation and quarantine orders.

The new data shows a total of 551,710 offences were recorded during the 12-month period, with the number of crimes recorded increasing by 23,229 (or 4.4 per cent).

Lockdown breaches were the fifth most common crime recorded statewide, making up 6 per cent of all offences over the past 12 months.

Other common crimes included stealing from a motor vehicle (56,849 offences), breaching a family violence order (50,462), other theft (46,209) and criminal damage (35,966).

Family violence-related crimes increased by 7.5 per cent with more than 90,000 offences recorded.

The highest number of crimes recorded were in the local government areas of Melbourne, Latrobe, Yarra, Greater Shepparton and Horsham. And while three of the top five actually recorded small declines in the number of offences committed in their neighbourhoods, Yarra’s crime rate per 100,000 residents rose 5.1 per cent and Horsham’s surged 23.2 per cent.

The Crime Statistics Agency said the data also showed “significant upward trends” in crimes including drug offences and the breaching of court orders, which includes intervention order breaches.

It comes just weeks after Mernda woman Celeste Manno, 23, was allegedly murdered in her home by a man who was subject to an interim intervention order.

The agency said the largest decreases were in areas including arson and disorderly or offensive conduct, with the state in lockdown during half the 12-month period due to COVID-19.

There were also drops in the number of thefts from shops, thefts from cars and residential non-aggravated burglaries.

More to come.

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