Police reveal violence trends across state

NAMBUCCA Valley had the twelfth-highest rate of reported domestic-violence-related assaults per capita in New South Wales in the past year, at 952.1 per 100,000 people, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reveals.

The bureau’s figures, which cover the period from April 2022 to March 2023, exclude nine of the state’s 128 Local Government Areas (LGAs) where populations less than 3,000 meant per-capita rates were not recorded because “these areas are very sensitive to small changes in population sizes and the number of incidents recorded”.

Reported incidents of domestic violence in the Nambucca Valley increased by an average of 12.1 per cent per year in the past five years, an increase from 123 to 194.

This was the eighth-largest jump among NSW LGAs during that period, which covers from the 12 months to March 2019, to the 12 months to March 2023.

By comparison, the statewide average annual increase over the past five years was three per cent, increasing from a total of 30,244 to 34,017.

Incidents of domestic-violence-related assault reported to police across the state probably represent about 40 per cent of actual incidents, because of under-reporting, says non-government advocacy body Domestic Violence NSW.

The 20 NSW LGAs with the greatest rates of reported domestic-violence-related assaults in the past year were all regional, however Nambucca and Kempsey were the only two coastal areas.

Kempsey LGA recorded the state’s eighth-highest rate per capita in the past year, at 1044.9 per 100,000 people, with a 10-per-cent average annual increase during the past five years.

Coffs Harbour LGA had the state’s 21st-highest rate for the past 12 months.

Statistics bureau executive director Jackie Fitzgerald said there was a long-term pattern of violent offences – including domestic, non-domestic and sexual violence – occurring more in regional NSW compared with Sydney, and that there were several factors that could contribute to some regional areas experiencing higher rates than others.

“A known risk factor for domestic violence is the level of disadvantage in the community, and this is a common element among communities with high rates of domestic violence,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Some communities with extremely high recorded domestic violence rates are small; in these communities a high number of offences among a subgroup of the population can impact the overall crime rate in a way that doesn’t happen in large communities.

“Domestic violence rates are also influenced by the availability of police to report or detect offences, which also differ across communities,” she said.

The 194 incidents reported in the Nambucca Valley in the past year involved a total of 211 alleged victims, including 136 females and 75 males.

Police proceeded against 149 alleged offenders, including 103 males and 46 females, however the bureau noted offenders were: “counted in the time period in which they were proceeded against, which could occur quite some time after the incident, whereas incidents and victims are counted in the time period they were reported to police.”

Nambucca Valley Police Chief Inspector Darren Jameson said his team was focused on “the positive investigation of all allegations of domestic and family violence crime”, and would continue to prosecute alleged offenders “to the full extent of the law”.

He said police were also continuing to “look for ways to assist victims to break the cycle of violence through Apprehended Domestic Violence Order compliance checks and seeking external assistance to keep them safe”, targeting recidivist offenders through ‘suspect targeted management plans’, and working with other stakeholders to raise awareness of domestic violence and the need to report it.

Responsibility for reducing domestic violence “falls squarely on the offender”, Jameson said, but he encouraged the community to “take domestic and family violence seriously”, and remain vigilant.

“If you see it or hear it, please report it,” he said.

“We’ll take it from there.”

If you or anyone you know is affected by domestic violence the following phone numbers may prove useful:

Emergency Services: 000;

Warrina Domestic & Family Violence Specialist Services: (02) 6652 4000;

National Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Counselling Service: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732);

Lifeline (crisis support and suicide prevention services): 131 114.

By Brooke LEWIS

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