Assaults tarnish crime report card

A SHARP spike in assaults in the Byron Shire was the stand-out anomaly in an otherwise good report card for the Northern Rivers from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics.

The report released this week showed crime across the region last year remained stable, or fell across a range of major offences.

While reported sexual assaults in the Byron Shire were up 79 per cent, Tweed-Byron crime manager, Inspector Shane Diehm, believes the statistic was the result of more people coming forward to report incidents.

“We’ve been working closely with groups like NSW Health and youth services in Byron Shire to encourage people to report sexual assaults,” he said.

Insp Diehm said that in most cases the victims knew the offenders so it was not a case of in discriminate offenders in the area.

The Byron Shire also saw a 25pc increase in reported non-domestic violence assaults in 2009.

Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham said the figure supported council’s unanimous vote this week for a 1am lock-out trial at licensed premises in an effort to reduce alcohol-related violence.

The vote was endorsed by the police union and a coalition of emergency service workers onbehalf of local police, paramedics, nurses and doctors.

Alternatively, reported assaults in Lismore and Richmond Valley local government areas were dramatically down.

Lismore showed a 20pc fall, while Richmond Valley achieved an impressive 30pc reduction.

Richmond Local Area Commander Superintendent Bruce Lyons attributed the good results across all crime categories in the Richmond command to the hard work of police and the co-operation of the community.

“Over the last 18 months we have also made a concerted effort to work closely with the human services, like the Department of Community Services, Juvenile Justice and the Education Department, to co-ordinate our efforts in a more productive way – particularly to deal with those families who are doing it tough,” he said.

Crime figures across NSW were also down or stable. NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione attributed the results to targeted policing strategies.

“They give local police the information they need to put in placelocal solutions for local problems,” he said.

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