2000 Covid fines in lockdown

Protesters were fined and arrested at an anti-lockdown march in Dandenong South in 2020. 214056_15 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Covid breaches were the number-one offence in Greater Dandenong in the past year, according to the latest official crime stats.

In the 12 months up to 31 March 2021, Victoria Police issued 2012 public-health infringements in the council area.

Across Victoria, police issued nearly 38,000 Covid fines of between $200 and $4957. More than 5 per cent were in Greater Dandenong.

Also, during a year marked by stay-at-home lockdowns, reported family violence surged.

In the context of family violence, serious assaults were up 12 per cent and common assaults 10 per cent.

Intervention order breaches soared by 29 percent, stalking 17 per cent and harassment 33 per cent.

Meanwhile, non-domestic crimes plunged dramatically.

The traditionally second-highest category in Greater Dandenong – thefts from cars – dropped 21 per cent.

Other high-impact crimes that markedly reduced were robbery (down 34 per cent), aggravated home burglary (down 21 per cent), non-aggravated home burglary (down 27 per cent) and car theft (down 21 per cent).

Breach of bail orders were down a massive 59 per cent.

However, drug possession was up 7 per cent and cultivation 18 per cent.

The most crime-prone suburb in the municipality was Dandenong (5868) followed by Noble Park (2096), Springvale (2087), Dandenong North (1288) and Keysborough (1269).

Victoria Police confirmed only 25 per cent of Covid fines had been paid.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent attributed the statewide rise in family violence order breaches and drug possession to Covid restrictions and “proactive policing operations”.

“The reductions in most key crime categories are extremely pleasing however we remain focused on strategies to keep the community safe.”

Crime Statistics Agency chief statistician Fiona Dowsley said Victoria recorded its highest ever number of family incidents and family violence-related criminal offences.

“The number of family violence-related victim reports has continued to increase, while other types of victim reports decreased over the past 12 months.

“This increase in family violence-related victimisation has been seen for the last three years, reflecting more than pandemic-related impacts.”