The truth about crime
By SALLY GORDON
BETTER policing has helped curb crime in the Clarence Valley, according to one Grafton officer. The 2005 Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research this week released figures showing there had been no major increases in crime in the area covering the Clarence Valley. And, more encouraging was news that the Clarence Valley local government area is not included in the 50 worst crime affected areas in the State for any crime types published. The top 50 list ranks recorded criminal incidents for offences including domestic and sexual assault, robbery, break and enter, car theft, steal from person and steal from motor vehicle. Sergeant Chris Tuite said yesterday he wasn't surprised by the result as there were 'higher crime areas than here'. "I think that's why everybody loves living in the Clarence Valley," he said. According to the Bureau, the far north west town of Bourke had the highest rate of criminal incidents per 100,000 head of population for assault, break and enter, and motor vehicle theft for 2005. Last year, Bourke Shire residents had about a one in 12 chance of being assaulted and one in 27 chance of having their house robbed. Sgt Tuite said people's perception of crime was often quite different to statistical data. "People's opinion on crime is their perception and their perception is what they hear, so therefore if they hear of a couple of incidents in their street, they then perceive there is a break and enter epidemic," he said. "Whilst disturbing and distressing both for the victims and to police, it's not as catastrophic or as rife as some would believe." The Grafton sergeant said also that crime in the Clarence Valley was cyclical with the cooler months demon- strating a noticeable decline in crime. "It goes in waves . . . just of late the incidents of crime certainly have been down, but we do experience that in the cooler months," Sgt Tuite said. "In the summer, people are wandering around a lot more and that renders itself to opportunistic crimes."