Sex crime in Victoria has jumped by 15.9 per cent in the year to December 2017 and most offenders are known to their victims.
Sex crime in Victoria has jumped by 15.9 per cent in the year to December 2017 and most offenders are known to their victims.

Disturbing thing sex offenders have in common

DURING a 30-minute press conference singing the praises of Victoria's hardworking police force, Police Minister Lisa Neville brushed over a very important point.

Buried in shiny new stats declaring Victoria is in the midst of "the biggest drop in crime for well over a decade", she mentioned that sexual offences continued to grow.

Then she said something that likely hit home for the thousands of victims who were traumatised by a sex-related crime in a year where those crimes skyrocketed.

"Of almost all those sexual assaults, most of them relate to people known to each other," Ms Neville said.

It's a confronting commonality most sex offenders share - they know the person or people they prey upon.

"There's very few (sexual assaults) from people who aren't known to each other."

To be specific, sexual offences jumped by 15.9 per cent in the year to December 2017. In 2016, there were 7142 criminal incidents involving some form of sexual assault or violence. In 2017, that number jumped to 8279.

Ms Neville said the rise could in part be due to increased reporting.

"It's not surprising in the context of royal commissions that you have more people coming forward and reporting these terrible crimes, and we want to see more of that over time," she said.

Another crime that happens behind closed doors in Victoria is family violence. It's through the roof, even after a 2.5 per cent drop year-on-year.

Of roughly 500,000 crimes committed in Victoria in 2017, family violence accounted for 90,000 of those - that's 17 per cent of all crime in Victoria.

Crime went down overall in Victoria in 2017, but sexual offences were up. Picture: Victorian Crime Statistics Agency
Crime went down overall in Victoria in 2017, but sexual offences were up. Picture: Victorian Crime Statistics Agency

"It continues to be felt by women and children in this state. We need to continue to provide interventions to protect and save lives," Ms Neville said.

Revenge porn - where people share sexualised images without consent - is also included in the sexual offences category, with some recent crimes linked to social media, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.

"We are seeing people use social media for evil and not good, whether that's in relation to how they are meeting people and committing (crimes) ... or they're using it for revenge porn," he said.

"No one deserves to be subjected to these sorts of crimes."

Sex crime is the only category of crime to rise in Victoria. The total number of offences recorded by police dropped 8.6 per cent to 504,070, compared to 551,662 offences the previous year, the data showed.

Taken on a whole, the stats are being treated as a win for the Andrews government in a year when a looming state election will be won and lost on crime.

"We have less victims in 2017 than we had in 2016," Ms Neville said. "Of course, even though we have less victims, there are still too many victims. Too many victims who talk about the pain and trauma.

"This is a small reassurance to Victorians that we're on the right track, that we're starting to make inroads."

But Victoria's opposition says the state is "less safe". Opposition police spokesman Ed O'Donohue said the crime statistics "reveal and confirm that under Daniel Andrews, Victoria has become much less safe".

"Anyway you cut it, crime is up nearly 10 per cent since the election of the Andrews government and more serious offences are up by significantly more."

- with AAP

 

Daniel Andrews has been criticised for his handling of crime in Victoria since taking office. Picture: Mark Knight, 2016.
Daniel Andrews has been criticised for his handling of crime in Victoria since taking office. Picture: Mark Knight, 2016.