By VINNIE RODI

THE latest figures released by the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) have once again highlighted our region’s ongoing battle to combat family violence.

Mildura’s family violence rate per 100,000 population rose 3.6 percent between the end of June 2016 and the end of June 2017, according to the latest CSA statistics.

The incident rate, 3212.8 per 100,000 population, remains 158.6 percent higher than the State average of 1242.4 per 100,000, with family violence continuing to dominate the time and effort of uniformed Mildura police members.

Mildura’s family violence rate per 100,000 population is also the second highest in the State behind Latrobe, with the region regularly placing in the top five Victorian Local Government Area’s (LGA) in this category for the past several years.

Reports of family violence incidents have increased 27.4 percent from 2013 to 2017, with Victoria Police actively promoting increased reporting of family incidents across the State.

Mildura also experienced a 55 percent rise in public order and security offences between June 2016 and June 2017, according to the CSA figures, with 930 offences recorded.

Justice procedure offences also rose from 1013 last year to 1179 this year, covering everything from breaching family violence orders to failing to appear in court.

“The rise in public order offences is due to a concerted effort by police to create a safe and family-friendly environment in Mildura’s Central Business District (CBD),” Mildura police Inspector John Nolan said.

“In recent times, the CBD has been a forum for drunken, violent and unruly behaviour – particularly at, or in the vicinity of, late-night licensed venues.

“Mildura police are working with Mildura Rural City Council and licensees to improve the situation, and we are confident that things can be turned around.”

Insp. Nolan said the rise in justice procedure offences mainly relates to breaches of family violence orders.

Overall, Mildura’s offence rate per 100,000 population rose 6.4 percent to 12,612.9 per 100,000 compared to last year’s figures, with 6771 offences recorded over the 12-month period – an increase of 7.2 percent.

It’s a rate that, unfortunately, again places the region above the State average. The crime rate per 100,000 population across Victorian actually decreased by two percent to 8659.2 per 100,000 between June 2016 and June 2017.

“Although this decrease across the State is pleasing, it follows significant increase in crime over the previous six years which saw Victoria’s crime climb 29 percent,” Insp. Nolan said. “Over the last year crime in the Mildura LGA rose 6.4 percent, with this rise attributed mainly to the high number of public order and justice procedure offences recorded.

“A significant portion of the crime increase in Mildura over the past five years (20.6 percent from 10,457.3 to 12,612.9 per 100,000 population) is also attributable to increased reporting of family violence, with all the accompanying offences such as burglary, property damage and assault. Crimes against the person also rose two percent, while drug offences decreased by 9.2 percent.

“On a positive note, assaults, burglaries and property damage has decreased slightly in the past year. These offences seriously impinge on our community perceptions of safety, and are a major focus of our work,” Insp. Nolan said.

The high number Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders also remains a concern, with alleged offences committed by this group accounting for a staggering 31.7 percent of crime in the Mildura LGA.