Big drop in victims of crime in Victoria

·3-min read

Rising interest rates and cost-of-living pressures could see Victorians resort to crime, police suggest, after the pandemic saw criminal activity plunge to "remarkable" lows.

Crime Statistics Agency data released on Thursday shows more than 164,100 victims of crime were recorded in Victoria in the past 12 months, down by 38,300 from 2017.

The state reported its lowest number of unique victims since 1993, when the police database known as the Law Enforcement Assistance Program was introduced.

Residential burglaries and overall thefts in the past 12 months were the lowest on record since at least 1993.

Victoria Police deputy commissioner Rick Nugent said that in all his years of policing, he has not seen such significant reductions in crime and such low numbers.

"They're remarkably low, which is wonderful," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We have worked really hard during the pandemic, particularly as we're coming out of the pandemic ... to do everything we possibly can to keep crime as low as we can.

"Ideally for me, that was a reset in crime, and we can keep it very low moving forward."

However, Mr Nugent warned crime numbers would almost certainly increase next year given Victoria has emerged from COVID-19 restrictions.

He said there was only so much police could do, and society was heading into a difficult period with rising interest rates and cost-of-living pressures.

"We know that sometimes (puts) pressures on families and people, and some people can resort to crime - that's worldwide," Mr Nugent said.

He said the crime statistics data accounted for about 85 days' worth of COVID-19 restrictions, which helped curb crime.

Criminal offences dropped by more than 10 per cent to 469,500, largely because fewer people breached Chief Health Officer directions.

The number of criminals obtaining property by deception and possessing drugs also declined.

There were 19,930 homes burgled in the past 12 months, down from 15,570 in 2017.

"Aggravated" burglaries - meaning residents were home at the time - were up by more than 300 on last year. Police attributed this increase to people working from home, being home sick, or subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

Robbery rates were the lowest since 2005, down seven per cent on last year.

More than three-quarters of robberies were committed by people aged under 24. Police said the offenders were often linked to youth street gangs.

While family violence offences dropped more than three per cent in the past 12 months, police warned such offences often go unreported for some time.

Overall assaults dropped by 860 in the past year, although common assaults not related to family violence increased in line with a spike in attacks near licensed premises.

"We have teams of police on foot and mobile patrols around licensed premises, entertainment districts and other community locations, to ensure we protect the public and prevent them from becoming victims of assault," Mr Nugent said.

Firearms offences dropped by more than 230 in the past 12 months.

Blackmail and privacy offences increased significantly over the past 12 months, but Mr Nugent said both were anomalies.