A STRONG focus on catching problem offenders has driven a decrease in some of the city’s most troublesome crime categories, police say.
Crime data for 2016, released on Thursday, revealed while overall crime had increased by more than seven per cent in the Ballarat local government area, burglary, break and enter and property damage were well down.
Break and enter offences dropped by 5.4 per cent while property damage decreased by nearly 10 per cent.
Superintendent Andrew Allen said tasking by police had yielded major results in some problem areas. Police made volume arrests late last year when the media, Crime Stoppers and the police teamed up to help apprehend recidivist offenders.
This had a near 100 per cent success rate and consequently reduced crime in those categories.
“The hard work of recidivist teams and consistent targeting of offenders is seeing positive results across the division,” Superintendent Allen said.
Arson remains a problem area for police –it increased by close to 30 per cent in 2016.
Inspector Bruce Thomas said stolen cars deliberately torched were continually dumped. He said this accounted for the significant rise, but stressed police had also been investigating a number of suspicious fires in Sebastopol and at a local school.
“The arson of stolen cars has become more prevalent and is also very concerning, particularly in the summer months,” Inspector Thomas said.
“This is a contributing factor to the increase. There was also a spate of arsons in the Sebastopol area including Marty Busch Reserve and Phoenix P12 college and surrounds which also contributed to the increase.
“Offenders were arrested for a series of these fires.”
Inspector Thomas said police would continue to identify and then target recidivist offenders responsible for a “growing proportion” of crime.
“The Ballarat investigative units CIU, SOCIT and DRU have been successful in arresting a large number of these offenders for varied offence categories,” Inspector Thomas said.
“There is no one solution to decreasing crime but rather a range of initiatives that all contribute (to crime reduction).”