A SHARP rise in assaults and other crimes ''against the person'' in some country and regional council areas is a standout feature of the latest Victoria Police crime statistics.
Some country council areas including Horsham and Colac-Otway recorded a jump in crimes against the person of more than 70 per cent, while the four biggest regional municipalities - Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Latrobe - all recorded jumps greater than 20 per cent.
In the City of Latrobe, which covers Traralgon, Morwell, Moe and other towns in the Latrobe Valley, the number of crimes against the person jumped 31.9 per cent to 1776 in the 2011-12 financial year.
Inspector Mick West from the Latrobe Police Service Area (PSA) addressed the surge in a message attached to the statistics. His comments suggest that some of the increase is due to more reporting of family violence offences.
''Unfortunately, crime statistics in Latrobe PSA have risen over the past 12 months with crimes against the person significantly climbing by 31.9 per cent. While this is a worrying trend, it is important for the community to understand that our new Family Violence Unit is determined to prosecute all incidents to the fullest and this policy has resulted in a 43 per cent increase in these crimes,'' he said.
Inspector West said it was a positive that motor vehicle theft and theft from motor vehicles declined in the Latrobe City Council area. In total, crimes against property in Latrobe barely changed, rising by less than 1 per cent.
Latrobe mayor Ed Vermeulen said it was ''a worry'' that the number of crimes against the person had increased in the municipality. ''We're putting an increasing emphasis on CBD cameras. We've had some very significant success in the Morwell CBD area with cameras which are constantly monitoring what's going on, back to a screen in the local police station,'' he said.
''They've proved quite successful. Because not only has it proved a very significant deterrent, but the problem has not gone somewhere else either. And that is really vital,'' he said.
CCTV footage is also taken at one location in Traralgon, Cr Vermeulen said, while another Traralgon location was being considered. Cr Vermeulen said he believed alcohol, drugs and a lack of respect some people had for others played key roles in ''crimes against the person.''
In the Horsham council area crimes against the person rose 71.9 per cent to 380 offences in 2011-12. Most of the increase was due to a rise in assaults. Mayor Mandi Stewart said she was ''really surprised'' by the increase. ''Horsham is a safe community,'' she said.