Shepparton crime level claim refuted

By Myles Peterson

A University of NSW study has refuted Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy’s assertion ‘‘‘under Daniel Andrews, Victoria has won the unenviable title as the state with the country’s highest rate of crime’’.

Member for Northern Victoria Region Wendy Lovell defended the Liberal leader’s comment.

‘‘The people I trust on crime are the local people who, when I knock on their doors, are telling me they don’t feel as safe as they used to in our community,’’ she said.

‘‘They all know of crimes that have happened; home invasions, robberies, assaults and what they’re looking for is a government that will return their community to a safe level.’’

Ms Lovell pointed to a set of statistics released by her own party that claimed crime levels had risen in Victorian between 2014 and 2018, while dropping in NSW.

‘‘We have a whole range of policies that we are releasing to do with law and order; strengthening the parole and sentencing laws and investing in local policing,’’ she said.

‘‘What I know is that crime in Shepparton overall has risen 15 per cent over the term of the Andrews’ Government.’’

Labor candidate for the seat of Shepparton Bill Heath countered and said his party had been making sizable investments to strengthen law and order and fight crime.

‘‘Labor has increased funding for the police department by 36 per cent compared to when the Coalition was last in government, to deliver an additional 3135 additional sworn police officers and 1000 additional custody and protective services officers and police support staff,’’ he said.

‘‘Figures released by the Independent Crime Statistics Agency reveal that in the year to June 2018, Victorian crime has fallen by 7.0 per cent statewide, and by 5.1 per cent for the Greater Shepparton Local Government Area.’’

Nationals’ candidate for Shepparton Peter Schwarz argued levels had increased.

‘‘There could be arguments either way, but certainly with the Shepparton electorate there can be no issue that the overall crime rate has gone up,’’ he said.

Since 2009 the rate of criminal incidents for the Greater Shepparton region rose from 6779.4 per 100000 people to a peak of 9403.4 in 2017.

That figured eased downwards to 9110.3 per 100000 people between 2017 and 2018, according to Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency.

‘‘So, we have to come down tough on those things for sentencing, we do have to have tighter bail and parole laws,’’ Mr Schwarz said.

University of NSW Professor Don Weatherburn published a comprehensive analysis this week, looking at Mr Guy’s claim made on October 28 Victoria was the state with the country’s highest rate of crime.

The analysis rejected the claim, but also stated: ‘‘It is also noteworthy that the number and rate of criminal incidents in Victoria have been at higher levels in recent years compared to before the Andrews Government came to power’’.