BALLARAT has experienced a dramatic increase in rape and other sex offences over the last 12 months.
Victoria Police statistics released this week show rape increased in Ballarat from 37 offences to 52 - or an increase of 40.5 per cent - while sex (non-rape) recorded a 54.4 increase.
The spike is far bigger than the state average, with rape going up in Victoria by 11.8 per cent and sex (non-rape) climbing 4.7 per cent. While rape numbers dropped in both Bendigo and Geelong, the increase in Ballarat was one of the largest of any police service area in Victoria.
Ballarat Sex Offences and Child Abuse Unit manager Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Argall said the increase was concerning for the community.
“We’ve known for the last 12 months that we’re doing a lot more work than we used to be doing. But I’m probably a little bit surprised with how the numbers came out,” he said.
Detective Senior Sergeant Argall said part of the increase could be put down to the success of the new SOCIT model and the public having more confidence in reporting abuse, but he said it would be naive to say more offences were not occurring in Ballarat.
Ballarat Divisional Superintendent Andrew Allen said further SOCIT staffing levels would be “reviewed and considered accordingly”.
“This unit has achieved excellent results in its first year and are performing to a very high standard, in a complex and at times, difficult area of criminal investigation,” he said.