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Reducing Harm

The Government’s first priority is to keep people safe.

Before the release of the first Community Safety Statement, Victoria had experienced yearly increases in crime rates since 2010-11. It was having a real impact in our homes, on our roads and in our communities.

But since the release of the first Community Safety Statement, the crime rate has stabilised and begun to decline. During 2017 the number of crimes reported and the rate of crimes per person in Victoria reduced by a record number. These decreases are welcome. But they in no way diminish the harm and trauma experienced by victims of crime.

We know that more needs to be done. It is the experience of victims of crime that is at the heart of every effort detailed in this statement to drive down the harm caused by crime. It's why we are focusing on sustaining our progress and giving Victoria Police everything they need to target crime.

What is being done

More police

3,135 new police

The Government’s investment in 3,135 extra police, above and beyond filling regular turn over, means there will be more police on our streets and responding to emergency calls for assistance.

The use of the Staff Allocation Model (SAM) to determine where police officers should be allocated has taken the politics out of policing and ensured new police are deployed to those areas most in need.

By April 2018, 300 of these extra police will be working in some of the busiest areas across the state. In addition, 106 specialist police in areas such as organised crime and counter-terrorism will keep Victorians safe. The remaining police will be recruited, trained and fighting crime over the next four years.

This initial additional resourcing will add about 74,000 additional police shifts in future years.

Last year alone, Victoria Police deployed experienced police into additional specialist roles with 40 extra Public Order Response Team members, 30 more anti-gangs squad members, and 14 more Special Operations Group members now protecting our state.

In 2018/19, Victoria Police will deploy an additional 825 police, informed by their SAM, as follows:

  • 300 police in stations across the state, boosting local police visibility in communities
  • 208 family violence specialists, with the majority of them deployed across Victoria
  • 93 police in specialist commands and operational support areas such as counter-terrorism, intelligence and covert operations, and public safety
  • 103 police to establish a parental leave program, providing a level of flexibility to police rosters, and the capacity to fill vacancies to sustain a high level of community policing, and
  • 121 police to deliver a range of Community Safety Statement 2017 initiatives – the Police Assistance Line and Online Reporting portal, Air Wing expansion, Police Academy support and leadership development. The 42 new youth specialist officers are also included in this group.
400 new police custody officers

In 2017, the Government committed to fast-tracking the deployment of 400 new police custody officers (PCOs).

Already on the job, these 400 new PCOs have freed up frontline police from managing people being held in custody, allowing them to get back to patrols and working in local communities.

Many areas have already directly benefited from this increase in frontline police time, including:

  • supporting new and existing taskforces
  • targeting repeat offending
  • responding to family violence.
New protective services officers

You told us that Protective Services Officers (PSOs) make you feel safer when travelling on trains at night.

In 2017, the Government invested in 100 extra PSOs to expand their presence across the public transport network.

The first 25 additional PSOs are now employed, undertaking intelligence-led patrols of public transport in the CBD.

In 2018, PSOs will begin working in mobile teams and patrol different modes of public transport. Victoria Police will enhance PSO presence across the public transport network and will work to target crime and anti-social behaviour and improve commuter safety.

This model also gives us the foundation from which to expand the presence of PSOs beyond the public transport network, and into places such as shopping centres, malls and other places of mass gathering where a highly visible police presence can deter crime and reassure the community.

Early work is underway to develop an expanded PSO footprint in places like shopping centres. This work will also examine improvements to professional development and career pathway opportunities for PSOs.

Offences per 100,000 people

A line graph showing the number of offences per 100,000 people in Victoria from 2008 to 2017. Data sourced from the Crime Statistics Agency.
Source: Crime Statistics Agency, Recorded Crime Statistics - YEAR ENDING 31 December 2017

More protection

New security in Melbourne’s CBD

Following the Bourke Street tragedy, the Government invested heavily in security measures to protect people in Melbourne’s central business district.

In 2017, the Government funded the City of Melbourne to begin installing bollards and other protective structures at key locations around the city.

An emergency public address system and additional CCTV cameras have also been installed in Melbourne’s CBD, to help police and other emergency services to respond faster to threats and incidents.

In 2018, the Government is continuing the implementation of security measures in Melbourne’s CBD, including Bourke Street Mall, Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Princes Bridge, Southbank, Southern Cross Station, the State Library of Victoria, Queen Victoria Market and Melbourne and Olympic Parks.

More prevention

Better responses to prevent and respond to family violence

Family violence continues to be the number one law and order issue in Australia.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence identified a range of areas for reform to better protect victims and hold perpetrators to account. The Victorian Government accepted every single one of these recommendations and, alongside Victoria Police, are working to fix the system.

The new strategy, Policing Harm, Upholding the Right: Victoria Police Strategy for Family Violence, Sexual Offences and Child Abuse 2018-2023, identifies how Victoria Police specialists can help recognise the warning signs and respond to family violence, sexual offences and child abuse.

This includes better focusing on victim safety, active management of offenders, prioritising child safety, and skilling up Victoria Police personnel in how they respond to family violence. This work will be boosted by the establishment of the Centre of Learning for Family Violence to deliver career-long training on family violence, commencement of the rollout of body-worn cameras, and finalising the policy required to collect secondary evidence and victim statements from family violence incidents.

These efforts will ensure that the needs of victims are central to Victoria Police’s reform agenda.

From 2018, 415 new police will take on family violence specialist roles in key locations across Victoria.

With family violence taking up around 60 per cent of police time and officers called out to attend a family violence incident every seven minutes, these family violence specialists will provide victims with an improved response and help free up existing police to focus on other crime.

Next steps

What we’ll deliver

  • new compulsory treatment for people with multiple and complex needs, including addiction, who pose a threat to the safety of others
  • introducing longer prison sentences and harsher penalties for drug dealers
  • establishing new specialist police to fight technology enabled offending by serious and organised criminals
  • new laws to gain more intelligence and information on high-risk terrorist threats
  • harsher penalties for drug and drink driving
  • new programs to stamp out the root causes of crime.

More police

Targeting organised crime and technology enabled crime

Technology is constantly changing the way serious and organised criminals operate. It also changes how police must work to prevent, investigate, and bring criminals to justice.

In 2018, the Government is working with Victoria Police to strengthen their capabilities to fight technology enabled offending by serious and organised criminals. This includes funding for extra specialist staff and technology to detect and prevent online child abuse, disrupt serious and organised crime, and conduct surveillance.

The use of advanced communication technologies, online marketplaces and virtual currencies to facilitate serious and organised crime is growing. The use of new technology, as well as new specialist staff, will enable Victoria Police to better prevent, investigate and dismantle serious and organised crime.

This will help protect Victorians from falling victim to technology enabled crime and position Victoria as a cyber-security leader.

Cracking down on drug dealers

To crack down on the criminals who supply and profit from dangerous drugs, the Government will introduce new laws to help Victoria Police investigate and prosecute drug dealers.

The Government will introduce legislation in early 2018 to reduce the quantities of heroin that qualify for charges of trafficking and commercial trafficking. Punishment for these offences will also be strengthened. This complements reforms passed in 2017 that give police greater powers to prosecute ice traffickers and ban the sale and production of synthetic drugs.

By cutting the supply of illegal drugs in our community, Victoria Police will reduce the harm that drug use brings to people, their families and communities. It also disrupts drug markets, reduces drug-related violence, and targets the profits of drug criminals. Work will continue across Government to reduce demand for illegal drugs.

More protection

Tackling terrorism

To prevent violent extremism, the Government is investing in Victoria’s capability to prevent potential terrorist threats and our ability to respond to incidents. These investments follow the advice of the Expert Panel on Terrorism and Violent Extremism Prevention and Response Powers.

Prevention actions will see investment in:

  • expanding Community Support Group pilots
  • boosting community resilience grants
  • establishing an independent research body to explore how to prevent violent extremism in Victoria.

The Government will also work with the Commonwealth Government and the other states and territories to:

  • develop a new ‘possession of terrorism-related material’ offence
  • consider amending the definition of 'terrorist act'
  • seek national agreement for a post-sentence supervision scheme for high-risk terrorist offenders.

The Government will also introduce legislation in 2018 to progress critical reforms from the Expert Panel. As part these reforms, Victoria Police powers to use lethal force when responding to life-threatening situations will be clarified. The recommended new measures will also include:

  • giving Victoria Police new powers to detain a person for up to four days without the need for a court order, and to question a person in preventative detention about a terrorist act
  • enabling police to exercise their special powers for terrorist acts more effectively
  • ensuring PSOs can work alongside police to keep the community safe in the event of a terrorist incident
  • amending laws to include a presumption against parole and bail for offenders with links to terrorism.

These new reforms will assist Victoria Police to rapidly and more effectively respond to the threat of terrorism to keep Victorians safe.

Making our roads safer

Drug-affected drivers threaten the safety of all road users.

In 2016, over a quarter of drivers and motorcyclists killed on Victorian roads were found to have drugs in their system. The Government is working to stop the rising number of people who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In 2017, the Government introduced legislation to create new offences for refusing a roadside drug test. The Government also strengthened punishment for drug and drink-driving offences and introduced alcohol interlocks on vehicles for more offences.

In 2018, the Government will further toughen penalties for drink driving. This means first-time, fully licensed drink drivers with a blood alcohol reading between 0.05 and 0.07 and drink drivers subject to a zero-blood alcohol condition, such as professional drivers, will receive a mandatory three-month licence cancellation.

On relicensing, they will also be required to install an alcohol interlock into their vehicle for a minimum of six months.

The Government will bring in tougher penalties for excessive speeding and unlicensed driving.

The Government will also review the operation of laws relevant to suspension and cancellation of driver’s licences of people charged with serious traffic crimes, including those which have resulted in death. The review will examine whether the current arrangements are enough to protect the safety of Victorian road users.

More prevention

Reducing drug harm

Drugs are hurting families and communities across our state.

Illicit drugs are increasingly dangerous, with new drugs leading to harmful overdoses and fatalities.

We need to do more to support people to fight their addiction, and reduce the harm that drug use causes to individuals, families and communities.

That’s why the Government is making sure Victorians with drug addiction get the treatment they need, opening more than 200 new drug rehab beds – more than doubling the number of residential rehab beds in Victoria since we came to office.

At the same time, the Government will introduce tough new laws to provide compulsory treatment to adults with complex needs, including those struggling with addiction and pose an unacceptable risk to the community.

Right now, some people who are a risk to their own and others’ safety are falling through the gaps – our tough new laws will make sure they get the treatment they need.

In 2018, the Government is also examining an appropriate role for Victoria Police in the planning of events such as music festivals. This seeks to promote community safety and prevent harm related to drug use at these events.

The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre

Recent high-profile violent crimes have shown us how, in some cases, people with multiple and complex needs, who have fallen through the gaps can be a serious threat to the safety of the community.

The Government has committed $31.6 million to set up a Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC), underpinned by a partnership between specialist police and mental health clinicians. Together, they will identify high-risk people who may pose a serious threat to the community, including terrorists and lone actors who have made ongoing threats to others.

By bringing together experts from a range of fields, FTAC staff will be better placed to identify and intervene early, prevent violence and make sure these people receive the treatment they need - before anything happens.

In 2017, Victoria Police started recruiting staff and establishing the FTAC. In early 2018, the Centre became fully operational and is expected to assess around 300 people annually. Specialist mental health and alcohol and other drug services will engage high-risk people so they receive appropriate and timely treatment.

Through identification, risk assessment and monitoring, FTAC will reduce the threat of terrorist and other serious violent offending in Victoria.

Stamping out the causes of crime

The Government is targeting the root causes of crime and anti-social behaviour in young people.

In 2018, Victoria Police will introduce an Embedded Youth Outreach pilot in two sites, Wyndham and south east Melbourne which involves police and youth workers providing immediate assessment and response to high-risk young people.

To prevent at-risk young people from offending, the Government is funding new Community Support Groups that bring together police, government agencies, community leaders and community agencies in Brimbank/Melton, Wyndham and Greater Dandenong. These groups will identify specific needs and create targeted prevention programs such as homework clubs, leadership development programs, intergenerational forums, mentoring, women’s empowerment programs, capability building with local services and cultural celebration events.