Indecent assault cases in the Illawarra have increased at almost double the statewide rate over the past two years.
The latest NSW crime statistics show the region’s sexual offences, not including sexual assault, have jumped 22.7 per cent since March 2012 compared with the NSW average increase of 12.1 per cent.
Despite the dramatic increase, the rate of indecent assaults per 100,000 Illawarra residents remains on par with the statewide average.
Following the release of the quarterly Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) report on Monday, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione attributed the statewide rise to an increase in reporting.
‘‘We believe the increase in indecent assaults relates to more people reporting the crime to police,’’ he said.
‘‘The publicity surrounding the royal commission ... and several high-profile sexual assault court cases has led to more people making formal complaints to investigators.’’
He encouraged victims to continue to report any incidents.
Despite the rise in sexual offences, the BOCSAR figures show a 4.9 per cent drop in the overall number of Illawarra crimes in the 12 months to March.
Likewise, the figures, released on Monday, show break and enter offences in the region fell significantly in the 24 months to March, with non-dwelling robberies decreasing 24.5 per cent and home robberies dropping 18.9 per cent.
The Illawarra’s crime rates compared with other regions also remain low, with rates at or lower than the NSW average for 12 of 17 categories.
Sexual assault, robbery with a weapon, car theft, stealing from a car and shoplifting cases were slightly above average.
Elsewhere in the state, police welcomed the continuing drop in assault offences within licensed premises, particularly in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD areas.
Statewide, these assaults fell 5.6 per cent during the past two years.
Commissioner Scipione attributed this to measures such as pro-active patrols, licensing inspections and liquor accords.
‘‘Police across the state are doing a great job in preventing violence in our pubs and clubs,’’ he said.
Figures for assaults at Illawarra licensed venues were not included in the BOCSAR report, but the number of non-domestic violence cases dropped by 26 to 1004 in the past year.
CRIME STATISTICS: HOW THE ILLAWARRA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS COMPARE
❏ Break and enter dwelling: 20.3 per cent decrease
❏ Break and enter non-dwelling: 19.8 per cent decrease
❏ Malicious damage to property: 11.3 per cent decrease
Wollongong has higher rates of crimes than the other Illawarra LGAs, however for eight out of 17 crime categories the rate is at or below the NSW average.
❏ Indecent assault: 56.1 per cent increase
❏ Shoplifting: 43 per cent increase
❏ Break and enter dwellings: 25.4 per cent increase
❏ Fraud: 27.5 per cent increase
❏ Break and enter offences in premises other than a house: 47.1 per cent decrease
Shellharbour maintained some of the lowest rates when compared with NSW for robbery without a weapon, robbery with a firearm and stealing from a person crimes.
❏ Fraud: 103 per cent increase
❏ Malicious damage to property: 66.7 per cent increase
Kiama has one of the lowest rates of fraud when compared with the NSW average as well as the lowest rates for assault – both domestic and non-domestic – robbery with a weapon, breaking and entering, car theft and shoplifting.