Holding offenders to account
A safer Victoria means holding perpetrators to account.
The most recent independent data from the Crime Statistics Agency shows that in 2018, more alleged offenders were caught and processed than in any other year for the past decade.
More police catching more offenders means more perpetrators are being held to account for their crimes, with 176,459 offenders processed in 2018.
Case Study Holding offenders to account in Geelong
In April 2019, Victoria Police in Geelong launched a successful bid to hold offenders to account.
A ‘Week of Warrants’ operation was completed across the region. As part of the operation, police pursued the outstanding warrants of repeat offenders. This resulted in a number of arrests, and in many cases, offenders turned themselves in, knowing they had no better options.
Some of the more serious warrants related to offences including threat to kill, possess and cultivate drugs, firearm offences, contravening family violence orders and recklessly causing injury.
All warrants related to people who had already been arrested and charged but did not appear at their scheduled court appearance and had since gone into hiding. The message was clear: that serious offenders will be found and held to account.
With attentive preparation and intelligence, police were able to target and track down offenders.
Key to this process was active community participation. Photos of the offenders were displayed throughout the week on the Geelong Eyewatch Facebook page and in the Geelong Advertiser.
In just five days, police arrested 87 people in relation to 173 warrants.
Perhaps one of the most striking results was that around 10 per cent of people handed themselves in, with police actively tracking down the remaining offenders.
Based on this success, Western Region police will now consider repeating the operation in Geelong and expanding it to other areas.
Case Study Youth Offending
Taskforce Wayward and Operation Regnant are examples of highly successful operations that are helping to drive down youth offending. They have been responsible for more than 1,200 arrests over the past two years.
These operations were set up to address networked offending, carjacking and home invasion offences and the signifi cant impact they have on victims.
On 4 March 2019, Taskforce Wayward was broadened and now falls within the remit of the North West Metro Regional Crime Squad.
Since 4 March 2019 Operation Wayward has resulted in a further 36 arrests, 37 warrants executed and 41 active investigations.
During 2018, 15 per cent of the ‘Extreme Risk’ Persons of Interest (POIs) were successfully removed from monitoring after they completed 12 continuous months with no offending, while engaging in school and other support services.
Operation Regnant is a high visibility, preventative response to high harm networked youth offending. Patrols have detected more than 4,300 offences since commencement.
Targeting offenders to reduce their risk of re-offending
What we have been doing
The community expects that police have the powers they need to prevent and respond to crime.
That's why the Government has worked closely with Victoria Police to deliver tough new laws, announced in previous Community Safety Statements, to prevent serious crimes by reducing reoffending, with lasting interventions.
Many of these are game-changers in making our communities safer and sending a clear message to criminals - they will be held to account.
These included a tough new suite of measures revolutionising how police tackle organised crime and the possession and movement of illegal guns. New measures include:
• Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs)
• tackling organised crime
• tough bail laws
• police powers to collect DNA evidence.
Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs)
In 2018, FPOs gave police strong powers to target and search individuals from outlaw motorcycle gangs and other serious criminal organisations – including those who associated with organised crime figures.
The orders can be issued by the Chief Commissioner or other senior delegates and are aimed at targeting people who may pose a danger to the community, but can’t be banned from accessing firearms under existing laws due to a clean criminal record. Police can use these powers to search anyone subject to an FPO, as well as their home or car.
Anyone in the company of an FPO subject can also be searched, if police reasonably suspect they are in possession of a firearm, ammunition or related items. Breaching an FPO by acquiring, possessing, carrying or using a firearm, ammunition or related items carries a maximum prison term of 10 years. An FPO subject is banned from visiting firearms business premises, clubs and ranges, with a breach carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of one year.
Tackling organised crime
Organised crime is often associated with particular crimes such as drug trafficking and drive-by shootings. Offences have been created to address these specific crimes. Trafficking in a commercial quantity of a drug of dependence, carried out for the benefit of, or at the direction of, a criminal organisation, will be punishable by up to life
The quantity of heroin required for commercial trafficking offences has been reduced, bringing it in line with equivalent quantities for ice. This will mean that more heroin dealers will face the higher penalties applying to those offences.
The Government has also introduced a new drive-by shooting offence, allowing police to search everyone who was in the car at the time of the shooting, alongside stronger sentences for recklessly shooting at a building or vehicle, with sentences of up to 15 years.
Bail laws have been strengthened with a presumption against bail for a range of serious offences.
And, in line with the Coghlan Bail Review, the Bail and Remand Court in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court is now operating. The new Court hears bail applications after hours and on weekends, and provides a strong and consistent approach to bail hearings.
Police powers to collect DNA evidence
Currently there are more than 55,000 crime scene DNA profiles held by police that do not match any person's profile*. Under new laws, DNA collection will be strengthened, ensuring more offenders can be identified and held to account.
In some circumstances, Victoria Police will no longer be required to obtain a court issued warrant to take a DNA sample from a person aged 15 years or older who is suspected of committing certain serious offences including murder, sexual assaults, home invasions and aggravated burglaries.
These new powers will help identify offenders more quickly, as well as detect and reduce serious crimes.
Tougher penalties for crimes against police
The Government has strengthened laws for crimes against our police and emergency services workers who work every day to protect our community. New offences and higher penalties now apply to those who harm police officers, PSOs, police custody officers (PCOs) and youth custodial officers.
Improved court processes through technology
A $12 million investment in the 2019-20 Budget will deliver additional audio-visual link technology in 28 Magistrates' Courts and 26 police stations. This will reduce the need to transfer prisoners for appearances in court.