LATROBE has the highest crime rate in the state outside of Melbourne, according to the latest figures for 2016.
The offence rate per 100,000 population is 19,171 for Latrobe this year, marking an increase of six per cent compared to 2015.
Latrobe’s numbers are more than twice the state average of 8975 but well below Melbourne’s figure of 26,275.
Latrobe police Acting Inspector Jason Helps said while numbers were high, it was not necessarily cause for alarm, with a change in police approach leading to more offenders being processed.
“We’re aware of that crime figure per 100,000 population and we have a number of specialist units looking at our active offenders; we’ve established an active crime taskforce which is targeting our repeat and recidivist offenders,” Act Insp Helps said.
“We’ve changed our focus around family violence to targeting recidivist family violence perpetrators.
“Both of those initiatives have resulted in our crime rate figures going up because we’ve processed more offenders in relation to it.”
Act Insp Helps said a small group committing a high number of offences, particularly in the youth demographic, also elevated the figures.
He said compared to other areas, Latrobe did not rate “that highly as far as total offences, but per 100,000 we rate highly”.
“You can interpret that different ways but my philosophy from a community perspective is that it’s still a safe area. Compared to some areas of metropolitan Melbourne we’re not having those really high level offences and the raw numbers aren’t as high,” he said.
“We’re processing more offenders in Latrobe than we ever have, but they’re committing more offences, so that is a concern and we’re working with our partner agencies DHHS, Corrections, Youth Justice to try and address that.”
Theft went up significantly in Traralgon (44.3 per cent increase) and Moe (34.9 per cent) as did burglary/break and enter at 32.1 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively.
Act Insp Helps said theft from motor vehicles was a major preventable contributor to the statistics, with about 90 per cent of incidents being from unlocked vehicles.
“It’s terribly frustrating that we have a crime category that is contributing significantly to our crime which could be prevented,” he said.
“Don’t leave your valuables in your vehicle and lock your vehicle.”
Statewide offences per 100,000 were at 8975, up about 9.4 per cent from 2015.
Region, Offence rate per 100,000 population, % change 2015-16
Latrobe, 19,171.1, 6%
Baw Baw, 8402.6, 12.3%
Bass Coast, 8489.9, 8.1%
Wellington, 11,206.3, 7.5%
East Gippsland, 9562.7, 2.5%
South Gippsland, 5357.1, 0.4%
VICTORIA, 8975.4, 9.4%
*Crime Statistics Agency