By Shelby Brooks

SOUTH Gippsland has recorded its highest number of criminal incidents in 10 years, new statistics have revealed.

The data, published by the Crime Statistics Agency, showed South Gippsland had 1289 total criminal incidents in the 2019-20 year, which is 13.5 per cent higher than the previous year.

A recorded criminal incident is a criminal event that may include one or more offences, alleged offenders and/or victims, and that is recorded on a single date and at one location.

Leongatha and Korumburra were named the top crime hotspots in South Gippsland, each recording 341 incidents, with Nyora trailing third with 68.

Across the shire, breaching a family violence order was the most common offence recorded, at a total of 145 incidents.

Other theft, residential non-aggravated burglary and stealing from a motor vehicle were the next common crimes, each recording over 100 incidents.

Although Bass Coast recorded more criminal incidents than South Gippsland with 1859, Bass Coast saw a 2.7 per cent increase than the previous year.

Wonthaggi recorded 501 of those incidents.

Cowes was the second highest crime hotspot with 347 incidents, although it was down from 362 last year.

Breaching a family violence order was the most common offence recorded in Bass Coast with 230 incidents, with criminal damage ranking second with 199 incidents.

Other theft, residential non-aggravated burglary and stealing from a motor vehicle also recorded over 100 incidents each.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, said he was concerned crime in the Gippsland South electorate had again risen in the year to June 2020.

“I’ve been campaigning for some time for better police presence in our communities and have joined with community members in places such as Loch, Korumburra and Mirboo North to advocate for better staffing of our local stations,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Indeed, since the end of June 2014 the number of offences in South Gippsland has risen 46 per cent… this is far and above any increase in population in these areas in that time.”

Mr O’Brien said the state government had made a lot of noise about employing extra police and giving them better resources, but much of that was focused on the city.

“Our local police do a great job under significant pressure and they are a valued part of our community, but they are clearly stretched and it’s unfortunate that the government seems to think that low crime areas can be left to their own devices,” he said.

“That is one of the reasons I believe we are seeing an increase of offences in Gippsland and it’s time the government broadened its focus beyond the tram tracks.”