National

Rising street, family violence in Victoria

By AAP Newswire

Victoria is in the midst of a street crime spike, with groups of offenders targeting lone victims in committing robberies and other confronting offences, while domestic violence also continues to sharply rise.

In the 12 months to March 31, overall offences have risen by 2.6 per cent to 515,682, the state's Crime Statistics Agency reported on Thursday.

While some crimes rates showed improvement, others remained a cause for concern, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters.

"We are seeing people who are committing crimes in groups," he said.

"In terms of robberies, often we're seeing cowardly attacks by people who are in groups of three or four and it's those street robberies where they're demanding phones and everything like that, so that's a concern for us."

The new data shows victim numbers have decreased while the number of offenders "processed" has increased.

Police Minister Lisa Neville acknowledged it's the first time the number of offenders has outstripped victims but added that "high-harm crime" like aggravated burglaries and home invasions is on the decline.

Youth crime is being driven by a small group of offenders, she noted.

"We continue to see some high-harm crimes by some of those youth offenders, so we continue to have a smaller but serious group of youth offenders."

Police are attending a family violence report every six minutes across Victoria.

"For this last 12-month rolling period to the end of March we've seen police attend just in excess of 81,000 family violence incidents," Mr Patton said.

"That's an amazing amount ... (and) an increase of about 6000 on the last period."

He expected the number of family violence crimes, including sexual assault, to continue to rise as the force rolls out it specialised team of officers to target the problem.

More broadly, the crime statistics compared to population growth, reflect the lowest criminal incident rate since March 2015.

Assaults, drugs use and possession and weapons and explosives offences rose, while burglary and break-and-enters dropped 13.5 per cent from 45,128 to 39,019.

"There's always further work you have to do and these crime statistics show that," Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Opposition police spokesman David Southwick said violent crime was keeping Victorians up at night and the government was not doing enough.

"The number-one category of those that are committing violent crimes against the person are youth," Mr Southwick said.

More needed to be done to differentiate "stupid crime" and redirecting troubled youths and those committing "serious crime", he added.

"We've all had enough of it when it comes to those people that deliberately go out to cause harm."

VICTORIAN CRIME RATES (YEAR ENDING MARCH 31, 2019)

* Assault and related offences - up 3.6 per cent to 40,428

* Robbery - up 6.4 per cent to 2671

* Stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour - up 10 per cent to 7456

* Theft - up 4.5 per cent to 136,910

* Drug use and possession - up 11.3 per cent to 12,097

* Weapons and explosives offences - up 9.5 per cent to 9645.