Crime in Warrnambool has risen to a 10-year high, new data has revealed.
Figures released by the Crime Statistics Agency on Thursday show the number of offences per 100,000 population in Warrnambool is the highest it has been in a decade, with 11,521 offences recorded in the year to March 2019, up 12 per cent from the year before.
The city's crime rate is higher than several other major regional cities, including Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.
Drug-related offences dropped by 10 per cent in Warrnambool, burglaries were down 11 per cent, theft rose by 26 per cent and assaults were up nearly 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, drug and deception offences in the region have fallen but overall crime has gone up.
The CSA data shows there were 42,752 offences per 100,000 population in the year to March 2019 - an increase from 41,727, or 2.4 per cent, in the previous year.
Those offences include crimes against the person, property and deception, drugs, public order and security, and justice procedures offences.
The number of drug offences has increased by 12 per cent, deception is down 6.5 per cent and public order and security offences, which include weapon and explosives, are down less than one per cent.
Justice procedure offences, which include breaches of court orders, jumped 23 per cent.
The data relates to the six Local Government Areas (LGA): Warrnambool, Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Colac-Otway.
Victoria Police western region division two Inspector Paul Marshall said the statistics were alarming but police weren't losing control.
"It's always difficult when you appear to be trying to justify an increase in crime but we do have a really good understanding of why our crime rate is up," he said.
"If the reason is because we are proactively targeting the offenders in those particular crime categories, then we are comfortable with that. We are never going to be happy with an increase but we are comfortable. We aren't losing control.
"We run a very tight and vigorous offender management program where each week we have major centre management processes where we identify offenders, rather than themes. We look at who is doing the crime because we find that they are probably offending across a number of categories, so we find the offender rather than the offending.
"Through that process we have managed to reduce our burglaries and residential burglaries but we also see an increase in justice procedures, which makes up over 10 per cent of our overall crime. Through targeting the right offenders, we process them and they are often released on really strict bail conditions through our collaboration with courts. Then we conduct compliance tests to ensure they are abiding by those court-imposed conditions and unfortunately a lot of the times they are not. That's when the justice procedures offending sky rockets."
The rate of youth offending was also the highest in 10 years, with the 10 to 24-year-old cohort allegedly committing 640 offences in Warrnambool in the year to March 2019 - a 13 per cent jump from the previous year.
Of those offences, 62 per cent were allegedly committed by youth aged between 18 and 24.
In Corangamite, youth crime dropped by 50 per cent in the last decade and 30 per cent from the previous year.
Glenelg and Moyne experienced their lowest youth crime rate in a decade, while Colac-Otway saw a slight rise (five per cent) from the previous year but a 49 per cent drop from 10 years ago.
Inspector Marshall said police youth resource officers were working very closely with local schools to combat the increase in youth offending and identify more offenders.
"The figures show that young people, particularly that 18 to 24-year-old cohort, are committing more offences. Why are they doing that? I wish I knew the answer," he said.
"Every time we process a young offender we want to vigorously try to understand their motivation and their why. We are also working very closely with our local schools to try and identify those reasons and prevent crime from occurring."
The release of the quarterly crime statistics will be covered in more depth in The Standard's news focus on Saturday.
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