By BEV JORDAN
An increasing number of women are coming forward to report sexual assault. A report released last week (June 10) by the Bureau of Crime Figures Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) shows sexual assault reports in the Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury region in March were up by 170 per cent.
Figures for Sydney were 69 per cent above the monthly average in March.
According to the figures contained in the bureau’s report, titled ‘Why did sexual assault reports spike in March 2021” the monthly average figures for sexual assault reports jumped from 10 a month in the months leading up to February 2021 to 27 in March 2021 in the Baulkham Hills Hawkesbury Region.
In the report, the Bureau’s Executive director Jackie Fitzgerald attributed the increase to more women coming forward to report incidences following several highprofile cases.
“It is important to note that the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reports crimes according to the date they come to police attention, not according to the date crimes occur. Thus, the March 2021 spike represents an increase in incidents reported to police in that month, not necessarily incidents taking place in that month.
She said the March spike aligned with widespread community conversation about sexual violence and consent of a scale following a number of high profile sexual assault allegations which came to light in late February and March 2021.
The March quarterly report by BOCSAR showed that in the 12 months leading up to March this year there were 130 cases of sexual reports reported in the Baulkham Hills Hawkesbury region, up from 81 in the previous 12 months.
Crime Manager for The Hills Police Area Command Detective Inspector Chris Laird said 10 cases had been reported to The Hills Police Area Command in March this year, compared to two cases in March 2020.
Det Insp Laird said: “The sharp increase most likely reflects a temporary increase in victim willingness to report sexual assault due to heightened public attention on sexual assault and consent (rather than an increase in prevalence). “
The BOCSAR figures also showed a huge drop in Break and Enters over a 12-month period with 329 cases reported in the 12 months to March 2021 compared to 543 in the previous 12 months in the Hills and Hawkesbury region.
Det Insp Laird put it down to more people at home during the COVID restrictions, increased proactive operations with Transport Command and proactive police units and greater engagement with the police Facebook pages.
“Increased reporting of crime in real time has caused increased vigilance and preventing crime, as well as solving crime by identifying suspects,” he said.
The Hills Police Area Command Facebook Page has a following of over 30,500 and with an average of 100,000 engagements per week.
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