Crimes by children up 32%


by Cam Lucadou-Wells

Alleged crimes by children as young as 10 have soared in Greater Dandenong, according to official statistics.

In the 12 months up to March 2024, Crime Statistics Agency figures show offences by 10-to-17 year olds were up 32 per cent.

Statewide, crimes by this age-group are at their highest levels since 2010, according to Victoria Police – up 20 per cent in 12 months.

However, crimes involving 18-to-24 year olds in Greater Dandenong were down 25 per cent.

Police are reporting that children across the state are increasingly involved in violent, serious offences such as robberies, aggravated burglaries and car thefts.

In Greater Dandenong, across all age groups, aggravated robbery was up 37 per cent, residential aggravated burglaries up 34 per cent and car thefts up 15 per cent.

Dangerous driving and stealing from cars were also both up 23 per cent. Animal cruelty rose 100 per cent.

Greater Dandenong’s overall crime rate was up 4.3 per cent.

Victoria Police has targeted youth gang members, underage burglars and car thieves as part of operations Alliance and Trinity.

More than 2700 arrests of the “worst child and youth offenders” were made in the past year, according to police.

“Police intelligence indicates the number of aggravated burglaries where cars are stolen has decreased since December, with sustained enforcement playing a role in this reduction,” a Victoria Police statement said.

“Seasonal elements have also played a part, as police know there is greater home guardianship in the cooler months.”

However, there was a sharp rise in cigarette burglaries and robberies by children – with 80 per cent of those arrested being under 18 and 40 per cent being Operation Trinity ‘persons of interest’.

Police recently arrested four men accused of being “orchestrators” behind a network of children stealing more than $2 million of cigarettes and cash in more than 140 burglaries and armed robberies.

Victoria Police acting deputy commissioner Brett Curran said children were “significantly overrepresented” in serious and violent crimes.

““There are a relatively small group of hardened child offenders causing significant community harm.

“This includes over 160 youth gang members who were arrested three or more times last year and another 38 who were arrested ten or more times as part of Operation Alliance.”

On 18 June, the State Government introduced laws to reform youth justice including a scheme of warnings, cautions and early diversion, a juveniles electronic-monitoring trial as well as lifting the age of criminal responsibility to 12.

“The new laws mean stronger consequences for serious, high-risk and repeat offending, but they also enable earlier intervention and diversion for young lower-level offenders so they have a chance to turn their lives around,” Premier Jacinta Allan said.

Police opposition spokesperson Brad Battin, said the Government was failing to keep Victorians safe.

“Ongoing frontline police shortages and cuts to crime prevention initiatives are another real-world consequence of Labor’s financial mismanagement and it is Victorians who continue to pay the price.

“More of the same from this tired Labor Government will not keep Victorians safe or break the cycle of crime for a growing cohort of young offenders.”