Dandenong Covid-fine central

Anti-lockdown protesters and police in Dandenong South on 26 August 2020. 214056_09 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

More than 1000 on-the-spot fines for breaching Covid directions were handed out in Dandenong in the 2020-’21 financial year, according to the latest official crime statistics.

In the same period, Greater Dandenong residents were issued 1784 Covid infringements, the Crime Statistics Agency reported.

This was equal to more than 5 per cent of the state’s total of 32,561 such fines.

Dandenong received by far the most infringements (1051), followed by Springvale (210), Noble Park (201), Dandenong North (124) and Keysborough (65).

During a week of anti-lockdown marches in Dandenong South in August 2020, there were 10 arrests and 72 on-the-spot fines.

On-the-spot fines range from up to $1,817 for adults and up to $10,904 for businesses for failing to comply with Chief Health Officer directions.

A $5452 fine can be issued for breaching social gathering rules or self-quarantine directions.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said police had used discretion to only fine the most “blatant” breaches, such as travelling too far from home, breaking night curfew and attending protests.

Many of the Covid fines were in conjunction with other offences such as selling drugs or driving a stolen car, he said.

“The community by and large are fantastic in supporting the Covid approach in the state. It’s not that many that don’t.”

Overall crime offences were slightly lower in Greater Dandenong and across the state in the 2020-’21 financial year. But family violence continued to rise.

In Greater Dandenong, family-violence serious assaults were up 10.5 per cent and family-violence common assaults up 3 per cent.

Breaching family violence orders also rose by 14.6 per cent, and intervention order breaches were up 16 per cent.

Other assaults – that is non-family-violence related – were down.

Also lower were robberies (down 29 per cent), burglaries (7.7 per cent), drug offences (10.2 per cent) and theft (9.7 per cent).

Dep Comm Nugent said family violence was a “significant priority and issue” for police.

There was a particular spike when Covid restrictions eased in October-December 2020.

Police would continue pro-actively checking perpetrators and their compliance with orders, as well as supporting victims, he said.

“It’s a hideous crime and it just continues to occur.

“It’s disappointing that’s where it is and that people continue to cause so much harm to victims.”