This chapter provides a detailed analysis of Victoria Police crime statistics for the Melbourne CBD, for the period January 1995 to December 2000. Statistical details are given and discussed for the total number of offenses committed, using four general classifications of crime: Crime against the Person, Crime against Property, Drug offenses, and Other offenses. Statistical details and discussion then follow for specific offenses within these four broad classifications and specific locations where crime is committed. Total crime Figure 7.1 below shows that there has been an overall increase in recorded crime in the Melbourne CBD between 1995 and 2000.
Criminal offenses occurring in the Melbourne CBD
In the six years under review Crimes against property represented 79.1 percent of all crime, Crime against the person – 7.1 percent of crime, Drug offenses 5.4 percent of crime, and Other offenses – 8.4 percent of crime. Crime against the Person There has been an overall increase in the number of crimes against the person between 1995 and 2000 – from 1,307 in 1996 to 1,626 in 2000. The vast majority of these offenses are assaults (71.2%) and robberies (19.2%). Sex (Non-Rape) offenses accounted for 5.9 percent, Rape (2.4%), Abduction/Kidnap (1%), and Homicide (0.3%). Crimes against the person accounted for 7.1 percent of all offenses overall.
Crime against Property
Property-related crime has also increased over the years 1995–2000. This group accounts for the greater part of recorded crime in the Melbourne CBD (83.6%). The Theft (Other)28 category made up the largest portion of this group at 32.2 percent, followed by Theft from Motor Vehicle (17.9%), Deception (11.7%), and Theft (Shopsteal) (9.6%). Aggravated Burglary represented just 0.1 percent of all offenses against property overall.
During the period 1995–2000, there have been significant increases in the number of drug offenses recorded in the Melbourne CBD area each year. These offenses have increased fivefold from 344 in 1995 to 1,724 in 2000. The most significant single-year increase was between 1995 and 1996 when the number rose from 344 to 968. The Drugs (Possess, Use) category accounted for 68.1 percent of all drug offenses, while 31.9 percent of drug offenses were for the more serious cultivating, manufacturing and trafficking offenses. In 1995 drug offenses accounted for 2.1 percent of all offenses recorded in the Melbourne CBD but by 2000 this had risen to 6.7 percent. Overall, drug offenses accounted for 5.6 percent of all recorded crimes for the six years from 1995 to 2000.
Frequency of specific offenses in the Melbourne CBD?
Tables 7.1 and 7.2 detail the nature and extent of crime in the Melbourne CBD for the period under investigation. Table 7.1 represents total recorded crime figures when examined as specific offenses. This allows an appreciation of which crimes are most frequently recorded in the Melbourne CBD and, conversely, which crimes are, statistically, the most infrequent. Table 7.2 provides further detail in the form of an annual analysis of specific crimes. This allows any trends in the commission of such crimes to be observed. The information contained within these tables is of considerable importance to the Committee’s Inquiry. Ultimately, it provides an objective benchmark of crime in the Melbourne CBD and one means by which the claims made by media and other commentators can be evaluated.
A number of offense categories recorded annual increases in each of the six years from 1995 to 2000 in the Melbourne CBD. These included Aggravated Burglary, Theft of Bicycle, Theft (Other), Drugs (Cultivate, Manufacture, Traffic), and ‘Other’ offenses. While the offense that recorded the most marked increase was Aggravated Burglary, this was due in large part to a change in the definition of the offense.32 Perhaps the most notable change, and one that has received a great deal of media attention in recent years, has been a 16-fold increase in the number of Drugs (Cultivate, Manufacture, Traffic) offenses recorded in the Melbourne CBD between 1995 and 2000. There were 45 of these offenses recorded in 1995 (or 1 offense recorded every 8 days) and 711 in 2000 (or almost 2 a day). The vast majority of these offenses (80.7%) were for trafficking heroin. Other offenses showing four or five years of successive growth were: Rape, Sex (Non-Rape), Robbery, Handle Stolen Goods, Theft from Motor Vehicle, Theft (Shopsteal), Theft of Motor Vehicle, Drugs (Possess, Use), Justice Procedures, Weapons/Explosives, and Harassment. Each of these offense categories showed overall increases between 1995 and 2000.