Police report unusual increase in crime for WA

THIS winter, Western Australian police are reporting crime rates usually seen during the summer months.

Reported offences committed in the metropolitan area against people have risen from 1835 last year to 2179 offences reported this year.

Offences committed against property have risen from 10,249 reported offences last year to 12,269 this year.

Alarmingly, domestic assaults have risen by more than 33 per cent, threatening behaviour by 26 per cent and there has been a 35 per cent increase in business robberies.

Motor vehicle theft has risen in the metropolitan area by 18 per cent and theft by more than 21 per cent.

Sexual assaults, arson and historic sexual assaults are the only areas where crime rates have decreased.

In response to these statistics, WA Police announced the formation of a new operation � Operation Sweep.

Deputy Commissioner Stephen Brown said in July 2015, crime in the metropolitan area was up by a total of 19.6 per cent across a range of categories compared to July 2014.

Police had already identified the unseasonal trend and were taking decisive action.

�What we know is that while crime usually drops off significantly in winter months, this July it remained equivalent to the levels we usually only experience in the peak summer months,� Mr Brown said.

�(Operation Sweep�s) sole objective is to focus on those people and places that are over-represented in crime reporting in Metropolitan WA.�

Mr Brown expects people to notice a greater visible presence of police, detectives and other specialists within the community.

�The public and offenders will definitely see a difference,� he said.

�The formation of the new operating model has the flexibility to rapidly divert in excess of 1000 officers across the metropolitan area at any time.

�The increase in available resources, coupled with greater direction and control through our restructure, allows actions like Operation Sweep to apply pressure where it is needed.�

Mr Brown said he has told his commanders this is the highest priority for the agency for the next three months.

He said despite reports indicating that methylamphetamine was a key driver of a general rise in crime in WA and across the nation, it was not the sole cause.

Organised Crime Division would continue to dismantle and disrupt the supply of methylamphetamine into communities as part of the plan.

�The external environment can change quickly when it comes to a total picture of crime, so police need to be agile and adaptable enough to move rapidly to respond,� he said.

Mr Brown said analysts were examining the reasons for the current crime levels but it was too early to fully understand what was driving the unseasonal change.

�We know from solid data that we currently have 10 per cent more vehicles on average available for tasking at any given time compared to this time last year and a 22 per cent increase in resources on Saturdays, on average,� he said.

�Our frontline officers have been working hard.

�Prosecutions are up 11 per cent and arrests of repeat priority offenders are up 41 per cent, so you can see that this trend is not immediately easy to understand,� he said.

�However, we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to stem this and we are not waiting to see the results for August. We are acting now.�

It is critical community members remember to secure their valuables, lock doors and windows and keep belongings out of sight.

�The evidence shows that a large proportion of volume crimes are opportunistic and we ask the community to work hand-in-hand with us to reduce offending,� he said.

Local Police Teams will keep the community up to date on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #operationsweep.

Shadow Police Minister said the statistics showed the Police Minister was failing in her job and exposed the Government�s failure to comprehensively tackle the rising problem of methamphetamine abuse.

Opposition spokeswoman Michelle Roberts said these statistics are damning for Liberal leader Colin Barnett and Police Minister Liza Harvey.

�The Liberals like to talk tough on crime but it�s clear they continue to fail,� she said.

�It�s time the Police Minister stops the hollow rhetoric and acknowledges she has failed to deal with the out-of-control crime rate in Western Australia.�

Ms Roberts criticised the Police Minister�s decision to stop publishing clearance rates for crimes.

Clearance rates are calculated by dividing the number of crimes that resulted in a charge being laid, by the total number of crimes recorded.

�Alarmingly the Minister believes clearance rates for crimes should now be kept secret.

�One can only assume that the clearance rates for crimes are even more embarrassing than the escalating crime rates.�