It’s official: Byron is the place on the north coast where you’re most likely to be bashed or indecently assaulted, according to new statistics released yesterday by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).
But there’s more: Byron also tops the state in theft from a person, per head of population.
Tweed Shire saw the greatest rise in domestic violence across the region.
Fraud is also on the rise across the northern rivers, according to the report.
In the category of violent crime, Byron incidents are 1.6 times the state average, while in nearby Ballina the likelihood is just 0.9.
Non-domestic violence, including alcohol-fuelled violence, worsened in Byron last year to 2.2 times the NSW rate per 100,000 population.
BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said that per head of population, Byron ranked number five in the state for assaults.
In total, Byron recorded 314 non-domestic assaults in last year, compared to Ballina’s 187, Lismore’s 311, Richmond Valley’s 142 and Tweed’s 330.
Indecent assaults in Byron climbed to 2.5 times the state average last year.
Byron reported 67 indecent assaults, Ballina 42, Lismore 58, Richmond Valley 29 and Tweed 68.
Mr Weatherburn said that a large proportion of the increase in indecent assaults, act of indecency and other sexual offences in the last 24 months’ report has come from an increase in reports by child victims and can also be attributed to active campaigns encouraging reporting of sexual offences, which include indecent assaults.
He did not believe the same rationale was true for indecent assaults, however.
‘I’m very wary of simply brushing these figures aside as merely a case of better reporting,’ he told ABC radio this morning.
‘There’s no real reason to think people would become more willing to report domestic assault over just the last two years.’
Lismore recorded a 4.7 per cent drop in violent crime but is still 1.3 times the NSW rate.
As proof that statistics can sometimes be misleading, an apparent ‘spike’ in murders in Lismore last year, to double the state average per 100,000 head of population, in fact equated to one murder over the period.
Tweed saw a massive jump of 9.7 per cent in violent offences in the years 2012–13, including a 16.6 per cent increase in domestic violence (626 incidents in the past two years) and a 74.4 per cent increase in indecent assault.
Despite this it remained just under the state average for violent crimes overall at 0.9.
Richmond Valley saw a 19.4 per cent drop over the 2012–13 year in violent crime, and a 6.4 per cent decline over the whole period.
But even so the new figures were 1.4 times the NSW rate.
Richmond Valley also saw a dramatic drop in property crime of 13.5 per cent in the years 2012–13, leaving it just above the state average at 1.1.
However it recorded an increase of break-and-enter (non-dwelling) offences last year to 2.3.
Other LGAs fared better in the area of property crime, with Lismore on 0.9, Tweed and Ballina on 0.8, and Byron standing out once again for all the wrong reasons on 1.5 times the NSW rate.
It recorded rates of stealing from a dwelling and stealing from a person at 2.2 and 2.8 times the state average respectively.
Fraud is emerging as a growing area on the north coast, increasing in Richmond-Tweed by more than 18 per cent in a single year.
It has also become the fifth most common crime (with 924 incidents reported in the last 12 months) after malicious damage (2,624), stealing from a motor vehicle (1,350), non-domestic assault (1,327), break and enter (1,097) and domestic assault (944).
The rise in fraud is mainly owing to unauthorised use of credit cards.
Police commissioner Andrew Scipione said the rise in fraud offences served as a warning for people to take all possible precautions to protect the security of their banking details, particularly credit cards