THERE has been a spike in reported sexual and indecent assaults in Lake Macquarie, while the incidence of property crimes has declined or is stable.
The breakdown of crimes in the Lake Macquarie Police District is detailed in the latest Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) update for the March quarter.
Commander of Lake Macquarie Police District, Superintendent Danny Sullivan, said the data showed contrasting results for crimes against property, versus crimes against people, in the Lake Macqaurie and Newcastle areas.
“Crimes involving property, such as home and business break-ins and motor vehicle theft in the region are continuing to fall or are stable,” Superintendent Sullivan said.
“This is good news for the residents of Lake Macquarie.
“It is encouraging to see the continuing efforts of police are having a significant impact on reducing crime in our local community.
“However, sexual and indecent assault crimes have risen in the reporting period (24 months) – a 19.4 per cent increase in sexual assaults and an 8.7 per cent increase in indecent assaults.”
Superintendent Sullivan attributed the increase to a range of causes.
“Reporting factors such as when the alleged offences were reported to police, rather than when they occurred, have had an impact on these figures,” he said.
“An increase in referrals from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault have led police to actively encourage the community to report historic sexual assaults, which has led to an increase in the number of reports received.
“While we have been actively encouraging victims to come forward, their courage in doing so is a sign of their confidence in the system.”
He said the data was cause for locals to again consider the values it wanted to uphold in the community, and the mitigating factors that can erode those standards.
“As a community, we should not be tolerating sex crimes against any victims, regardless of age, sex, relationship or when they occurred,” he said.
“We also need to reflect on mitigating factors such as alcohol abuse or the reluctance to seek help.”
The BOCSAR data showed that in the 12 months to March 2018, there were 383 reported incidents of sexual assault in the Lake Macquarie and Newcastle area, and 484 reported cases of indecent assault, acts of indecency and other sexual offences.
There was also 1,478 reported incidents of domestic violence in the same period.
Yet the rate of robberies without a weapon dropped by 40.2 per cent.
“If you know of anyone that needs our help, please contact us. The matter will be treated with compassion and in the strictest of confidence,” Superintendent Sullivan said.