Lockdown breaches behind slight increase in Victorian crime

Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency figures for 2020 show a slight increase in crime in the state when much of the year was spent in lockdown.

Recorded offences rose by 2.3 per cent, as Sophie Evans reports.




Victorian Health authorities confirmed the first case of COVID-19 on the 15th of January last year.

A passenger from Wuhan, China had travelled to Melbourne and tested positive.

Then, after the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic, Australia shut its borders and put strict lockdown restrictions on us in March 2020.

So what does this have to do with crime? Well, according to the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency, even though the streets were empty, we weren’t staying out of trouble.

The agency released a report which compared the number of reported incidents during lockdown with the number of incidents during the same time period in 2019.

Let’s start with the primary thing that could get us in trouble: going outside.

An on-the-spot fine of $1652 would be handed out to individuals found breaching the covid restrictions.

The report states this infringement was handed out to 6,062 people. Imagine that many people spending enough money to buy an iPhone! Okay, maybe a cheaper iPhone but it’s still around that price.

The most noticeable change was the decrease in the number of property offences, I mean I kinda expected the property rate to go down. We all have more important things to do that breaking into people’s properties.

But the CSA’s media release on Thursday 17th December 2020 states that the number of criminal incidents in the 12 months ending September 2020 increased by 4.2 per cent. There was a total of 413,042 criminal offences recorded.

1 in 17 of the offences recorded were to do with breaching COVID-19 directions.

Going back to the report, the data for the research paper was collected from the Law Enforcement Assistance Database AKA LEAP.

This is the database that police officers record offences they handle during their shifts.

There are three specific dates for each case:

The commit date: the date entered by the police office on which the crime occurred.

The offender processed date: The date on which the police officer took action against the alleged offender in relation to their offence. This date is also entered manually by the officer.

And the create date: the date in which the case was entered into the database.

This date is automatically generated by the LEAP system.

The data shown on the report is somewhat “skewed” so to speak, with a time lag in LEAP data entries by police officers following crimes committed. Especially during the month of April 2020. The report claims Victoria Police advised the researchers that the late timing in reporting offences to the LEAP database, is because of additional policing demands during the pandemic.

Thankfully, the data entries picked up in the months that followed, but it shows how the police sure had their work cut out for them last year… From assisting vulnerable people, to contact tracing, to border control and they have to deal with the usual daily crime that still occurs.