Crime wave in Ballarat? Look a little closer

Superintendent Andrew Allen responds to the report in the Sunday Age, alleging a crime wave in Ballarat.

Crime wave in Ballarat? Look a little closer.

I’m sure many Ballarat residents were as surprised as I was yesterday to read the sensational claims in the Sunday Age about the apparent ‘crime wave crawling dark streets of Ballarat’.

Considering this article used police crime statistics as its basis, it is very disappointing that the newspaper made no attempt to speak to police to check the facts.

The result of this, in my view, is an unbalanced report which contains assertions which are not only out of context, but incorrect.

Assaults in Ballarat have recorded a slight increase over the last twelve months of just under one assault in a public place per week.

Comparing crime in Ballarat to Glen Eira is arguably farfetched, given that Glen Eira has one of the smallest populations in metropolitan Melbourne, has a vast difference in demographics, and a small number of entertainment precincts.

Looking back over recent years, there has not been a single report of rape or any crime against the person at the so called "Rape Tunnel" mentioned in the article. I, along with other police, have never heard of such a reference at this location.

Further, sexual assault and rape are incredibly complex crime categories and we welcome increased reporting, which is reflected in the statistics.

Since the formation of the Ballarat Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) in 2011, rape and sex offences reports have increased significantly which indicates there is more confidence amongst victims to report offences – both historical and current – which are now investigated by specialist detectives.

This is not just in Ballarat, but right across the state with 27 SOCITs now in operation.

Like all major regional cities, Ballarat does have its share of crime however this article is not reflective of the current situation in our city, and is clearly alarmist.

We are one of Victoria’s largest regional growing cities and I am confident that Ballarat is a safe place in which to live and attend entertainment precincts.

The alleged nightclub assault that the article is hinged on has not, to date, been reported to police.

I encourage anyone who has been the victim of an assault to report it to police as that is the only way we are able to resolve these issues.

Given the community feedback about this article, I trust many residents are not disheartened by such a report, but I hope this provides important perspective on some of the more arguable claims that were presented.


Andrew Allen
Superintendent, Division 3 Western Region