Central Coast crime statistics released

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has released its latest report which shows that sexual assault as well as drug use and drug trafficking were significant problem areas for the Central Coast local government area.

However, there was a downturn in stealing and theft crimes, arson and malicious damage.

Police say the increase in sexual assaults recorded appears to be due to a rise in victim willingness to formally report sexual violence and the decreases in some offences represent falls in crime associated with the Covid pandemic in 2020.

Since April 2020, violent offending has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but many property offences, including car theft, break and enter and retail theft are still below pre-pandemic level.

There are 62 separate criminal offences recorded in the BOCSAR report covering the Central Coast LGA, with many of the statistics reported as remaining stable or no change.

The crimes raising red flags are: sexual assault; intimidation, stalking and harassment; possession and/or use of cocaine and other drugs; dealing/trafficking in cannabis; breach bail conditions and breach Apprehended Violence Order.

Over the five years from April 2016 to March 2021 there has been a jump in sexual assaults reported, from 289 to 393, an average annual jump of eight percent over five years.

Intimidation, stalking and harassment crimes are up 1.8 percent over the past five-year period with 2,020 crimes reported between April 2020 and March 2021.

However, domestic violence assaults reported have steadily dropped in the past five years, with 1,745 in April 2016 to March 2017, and 1,431 in the period April 2020 to March 2021.

Over the past two years there has been an annual rise of 8.5 percent in Breach Apprehended Violence Order offences.

There hasn’t been much change though in the past five years in non-domestic violence assault with 1,459 in 2016-17 and 1,425 in 2020-21, although the number of assaults on police jumped from 78 to 106.

There was one murder in 2020-21 and fortunately no attempted murders, accessory or conspiracy to murder or manslaughter crimes reported.

The BOCSAR statistics showed a downward five-year trend in several stealing and theft crimes.

Break and enter dwelling offences were down 1,384 to 769 (average annual decrease of 13.7 percent); break and enter non-dwelling decreased from 482 to 257 (annual average down 14.5 percent); motor vehicle theft down from 737 to 510 (annual average decline of 8.8 percent).

After showing a dramatic two-year annual downward trend of 25.6 percent between 2019 and 2021, the figures have stabilised on the offence of receiving or handling stolen goods.

Other significant offences have recorded a decline in the annual average statistics over five years, including: steal from motor vehicle down 11.6 percent; steal from retail store down 29.7 percent; steal from dwelling down 8.8 percent; steal from person down 13.1 percent and other theft dropped 9.6 percent.

There has been a drop in arson crimes from 315 in 2016 to 171 in 2021, an annual average drop of 14.2 percent over the five years and malicious damage to property has declined by 5.1 percent in the same timeframe.

Most of the drug-related crime statistics are recorded as stable or no change, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean those offences are not significantly problematic, with either dealing or possession/use of amphetamines, or cannabis, remaining high on list of criminal activity.

Possession and/or use of ecstasy offences are on a downward five-year trend of an average annual 17.9 percent while the possession and/or use of cocaine is on the rise of 14.4 percent.

Offences related to the use and/or possession of other drugs are also showing an upward trend of 13 percent.

Dealing and trafficking in cannabis offences have doubled in the past five years, trending up by annual average of 18.9 percent.

Offensive language offences are down 9.3 percent, liquor offences are down 15 percent but there are more incidents of breaching bail conditions from 1582 in 2016 to 2104 in 2021, representing a 7.4 percent increase.

Sue Murray