The Melbourne CBD to crime across the state
An important step in understanding crime trends in the Melbourne CBD is to measure the extent to which they differ from those for Victoria as a whole. Do they reflect state-wide trends? Or does the unique demographic, functional, and economic make-up of the Melbourne CBD create crime trends that differ markedly from the rest of the state? The following discussion identifies the proportion of state-wide crime occurring in the Melbourne CBD. It notes how this proportion has changed by tracking changes in recorded crime statistics for the Melbourne CBD and comparing these to changes observed on a state-wide basis. The chapter will also examine whether certain offenses are over or underrepresented in the Melbourne CBD when compared to state-wide crime figures
Likewise, there has been an increase in recorded crime statistics for the Melbourne CBD between the financial years 1995–1996 to 1999–2000. Although crime fell from 17,390 recorded offenses in 1995–96 to 17,306 in 1996–97, this was followed by three years of steady growth with reported crime rising to 25,209 in 1999–2000.
The Melbourne CBD to offenses across the state
Effectively, Figure 6.5 provides details of the offense categories that are both more and less likely to occur in the CBD than in other parts of the state. There are a number of offenses that appear to be over-represented in the Melbourne CBD. These offenses had average percentage differences of more than one standard deviation above the average for total crime. They are Robbery, Theft (Shopsteal), and Theft (Other). There are also offenses, which appear to be under-represented. These were Sex (Non-Rape), Arson, Property Damage, Aggravated Burglary, and Residential Burglary. These offenses had average percentage differences of more than one standard deviation below the average for total crime. The remaining offenses were within one standard deviation of the percentage for a total crime. Over the period of review, there have been some significant changes in the proportions of particular offenses recorded in the Melbourne CBD. However, these changes are masked in the five-year averages presented in Figure 6.5. Figure 6.6 details the annual proportions of Melbourne CBD crime for each of the offense categories.
The most striking change in the annual offense category proportions is in the Drug (Cultivate, Manufacture, Traffick) category. While Figure 6.5 shows that on average 5.86 percent of all drug (cultivate, manufacture, traffic) offenses were recorded in the CBD over the five years, Figure 6.6 shows that this average has not been uniform. Although the proportion of Victorian offenses committed within the boundaries of the Melbourne CBD increased modestly (from 4.3 percent to 5.8 percent) in the four years from 1995–1996 to 1999–2000, some offenses displayed changes that were far from moderate.
Serious Drug offenses and Behaviour in public offenses have been chosen for further analysis for the reason that they both change markedly as a proportion of total state-wide drug and behavioral offenses in the period under review. Consequently, they also demonstrate the manner in which crime trends within the Melbourne CBD sometimes differ from those throughout the state.
The changes charted above reflect a number of changes in relation to crime trends in the Melbourne CBD. The high proportion of Behaviour in public offenses occurred at the same time as the King Street nightclub precinct was experiencing significant problems in respect of public drunkenness and offensive behavior. Interestingly, efforts to counter this problem, such as the Westend project noted in Chapter 8, coincided with the above-noted decline in behavioral offenses. Additionally, this decline may indicate a change in policing policy, given that behavioral offenses are largely initiated at the discretion of police. Conversely, the surge in drug-related offenses after 1996–97 must be considered in light of a dramatically increased heroin supply throughout the state and the location of one of the resulting drug markets within the Melbourne CBD. As noted in Chapter 4 the activity and pace of the inner-city environment make it particularly susceptible to a street-based drug trade