THE incidence of family violence in Bass Coast, for the 12 months to the end of September 2020, is up by 32.3 per cent and the number of alleged offender incidents up by a staggering 44.5 per cent.

The number of incidents of family violence in the local government area (LGA) was up from 677 the previous year to the highest on record of 896.

It compares with an increase in family violence in South Gippsland for the same period of 2.9 per cent while neighbouring LGAs recorded the following rises in family violence: Baw Baw 14.73%, Latrobe 0.7%, Wellington 5.6%, Cardinia 9.8% and East Gippsland 6.2%

Across the state, family violence related incidents increased 7.5% in the past 12 months to the highest on record of 90,056 incidents.

So why the big increase in Bass Coast.

We asked Bass Coast Police for an assessment, and although they hadn’t completed a detailed analysis of the new crime figures, they noted that 1:17 offences statewide were COVID-19 related, and on top of that Bass Coast had accommodated a bigger population through the pandemic and lockdown.

“It stands to reason that if people are at home more often, it provides more opportunity for conflict, but we’ll need to look deeper into the report before responding in detail,” said a spokesman for Bass Coast Police.

The increase in the family violence figures may also be a response to a greater policy effort on family violence in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland area.

According to  Crime Statistics Agency Chief Statistician Fiona Dowsley, the COVID-19 public health response had “created the criminalisation of new behaviours in Victoria with over 32,000 offences recorded by Victoria Police”.

“This has resulted in record numbers of criminal incidents, recorded offences and alleged offenders’ incidents,” she said.

Overall, the number of criminal incidents was up in Bass Coast by 11.8% while the number of alleged offences was up by 44.5%.

There were 2053 criminal incidents in the 12 months to September 2020, up from 1836, but in only 38.9% of those cases were charges laid.

In 26.7% of cases, the criminal incident was recorded but charges weren’t laid for one reason or another, and 33.5% remained unresolved.

In other words, in 60.2% of cases where offences were committed, the perpetrators went unpunished.

Digging more deeply into the incidents of crime, data shows that there was a major crackdown on ‘Justice Procedure Offences’ with 726 breaches of court orders recorded, up from 429 the previous year, the majority of these family incident related.

In Bass Coast assaults were up from 335 to 260 incidents, stalking/harassment up from 62 to 107, and property damage up from 248 to 295 but drug related offences were down from 156 to 130.

But the crime stats were dominated by family violence with 896 incidents in Bass Coast (up from 677) and 459 incidents in South Gippsland (up from 446), with 662 of the family violence incidents in Bass Coast recorded against women (231 against men) and a similar split in South Gippsland, 362 against women and 97 against men.

The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) released the Victorian recorded crime statistics for the year ending September 30, 2020 on Friday, March 19.

In the year ending September 2020, six new COVID-19-related breach of Chief Health Officer Directions offence codes were introduced. There were 32,713 of these offences recorded, driving the increase in public health and safety offences.

In the 12 months to September 2020 the number of criminal incidents across the state increased by 4.2% or 16,652 incidents to 413,042.

The number of recorded offences increased by 4.4% or 23,229 offences to 551,710 in the year ending September 2020.