Victorian youth crime surge won't sink age-raise plans
Youth crime is surging in Victoria but it won't influence the state's push to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
New figures from the Crime Statistics Agency show Victoria's overall crime rate remained stable throughout 2022, but incidents involving children aged between 10 and 17 jumped more than 18 per cent.
Crimes committed within the 10 to 14 age bracket grew by 37.3 per cent compared to the previous year.
The new figures has sparked the Victorian opposition to call for a fresh approach to address youth crime.
"This concerning data once again proves Daniel Andrews and his tired government has no plan to tackle the true causes of youth crime or to get young Victorians in the system back on the right path," opposition youth justice spokesman Brad Battin said.
The Andrews government has pledged to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 if a national approach cannot be brokered within months.
Premier Daniel Andrews denied the latest statistics would affect its plan.
"Until we've made decisions about raising the age, I think it's best to wait and have the debate when you know what it is we actually propose," he said.
"The ages that we propose, the carve-outs that we propose, all of that, that's not settled yet - far from it."
His government this month unveiled plans to strip back the state's tough bail laws after 2018 reforms led to rising unsentenced prisoner numbers, particularly among Indigenous people and women.
The contentious reverse-onus test for bail would not apply to low-level offenders under the proposed reforms and the unacceptable risk test would be refined so the potential for minor reoffending could not be used to refuse bail.
More Victorians are breaching bail conditions and committing acquisitive crimes such as theft, according to the latest data.
However, the rate of overall recorded offences remained stable, rising 0.5 per cent to about 7333 per every 100,000 Victorians.
The number of offences increased by1.2 per cent to about 483,440.
Alleged offender incidents rose seven per cent to almost 163,000 in 2022 and offender incidents with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status increased by 14.4 per cent to more than 14,500 in the 12-month period.
Offences for breaches of orders jumped by almost 6000 compared to 2021, to about 74,000.
That represented a stark increase compared with about 29,400 breaches of order offences recorded in 2013 and almost 46,800 in 2014.
The number of people failing to answer bail in 2022 increased by more than 3300 compared to 2021 to almost 8200, although offences were higher between 2013 and 2016.
Offences for contravening bail conditions relating to conduct jumped by about 1300 since 2021, while the number of offences for committing a crime while on bail dropped by 40 to 337.
Overall, criminal incidents increased by 0.4 per cent in 2022 to fewer than 350,000 and the rate of incidents dropped slightly - by 0.3 per cent - to about 5300 per every 100,000 Victorians.
That represented the lowest rate since 2005, the statistics agency said.
Victim reports increased by about 5000 to more than 270,500 last year.
The council areas to have the highest criminal incident rates were Melbourne, followed by Latrobe, Yarra, Port Phillip and Mildura.
Regulatory offences dropped off significantly given the decline of COVID-19 rule breaches.