Small group drives up Dubbo's crime rate

A VERY small group of offenders is committing a very large proportion of the crime in Dubbo.

Police made the comments after latest statistics showed some crimes were being reported in the city at rates more than twice the NSW average.

While it might be easy to jump to the conclusion the city is home to more criminals, that was not necessarily the case, according to Orana Local Area Command Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Rod Blackman.

"One of the big issues we have in Dubbo is juvenile offenders," Detective Inspector Blackman said.

"In particular, the propensity of some of those offenders to individually commit large quantities of property crime, stealing from motor vehicles and stealing from dwellings.

"With crime figures, even though we're talking about fairly large numbers overall, we can still see significant spikes.

"That's where you know a particular offender or offenders are going on a spree and it can elevate your crime figures dramatically, particularly in our smaller communities."

When those few offenders were in custody, Detective Inspector Blackman said, crime rates tended to plummet.

He said several strategies were in place to keep an eye on prolific juvenile offenders that had had "quite profound" results.

"In addition to making arrests, we manage some of these people under the suspect target management plan, which involves specific strategies based on criminal intelligence and antecedence," he said.

"They might be locked away for something like shoplifting, stealing or a break and enter, and when they are, we are seeing a direct correlation between certain offenders and a massive reduction in the crime at the time.

"This obviously supports our argument when we are targeting these people on the suspect target management plan. They often don't commit just one crime in one crime category, they commit crimes across a range of categories."

Figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) for the 12 months to September 12 showed crime was being reported in six of the 17 major crime categories in Dubbo at a rate at least twice the state average.

Those categories were murder, domestic violence-related assault, indecent assault, break and enter to dwelling, stealing from a motor vehicle and stealing from a retail store.

Detective Inspector Blackman said daily crime mapping by police, particularly for break, enter and steal offences, had been punctuated with significant arrests where police believed “anecdotally or via intelligence that particular offenders had been responsible for a greater number of break and enters than they had actually been charged for.”

He said the extent to which bail checks could be performed also had a dramatic impact on crime figures. 

That ability, he said, had been influenced by factors such as the so-called Dunlevy precedent earlier this year, a decision that restricted what could be demanded as part of an accused person’s bail conditions.

“Effectively, our bail compliance checks were dramatically reduced, and that has been indicated in an increase in crime.” 

A major overhaul of the Bail Act in NSW, which was in its infancy, would see police prosecutors given the option to apply for bail compliance orders in addition to conditions for people on bail.

“If they’re on a curfew, than an order might be that they must present to the front door when requested by police, which can reduce the opportunity for people on bail to commit further offences,” Detective Inspector Blackman said.

angela.clutterbuck@ruralpress.com

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