Crime in Victoria
Criminal activity in Victoria, Australia is combated by the Victoria Police and the Victorian court system, while statistics about crime are managed by the Crime Statistics Agency. Modern Australian states and cities, including Victoria, have some of the lowest crime rates recorded globally with Australia ranked the 13th safest nation and Melbourne ranked the 5th safest city globally. As of September 2018 the CBD of Melbourne had the highest rate of overall criminal incidents in the state (15,949.9), followed by Latrobe (12,896.1) and Yarra (11,119.2). Rural areas have comparatively high crime rates, with towns such as Mildura (9,222.0) and Greater Shepparton (9,111.8) having some of the highest crime rates in the state..
|Crime rates* (2019)|
*Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
Source: [ Crime Statistics Victoria 2019]
Victoria has had a comparatively low crime rate throughout its history, particularly in relation to the homicide rate which has been and remains notably lower than that of comparable nations. During the colonial period (1851 -1901) drunkenness was the most widely reported crime, and in 1907 about 40% of all convictions nationwide were for drunkenness. Fraud was also common in the Victorian colony due to a shortage of currency and the common use of promissory notes. Victorian crime data and reporting prior to Australian Federation is generally seen as unreliable or inconsistent, with the exception of homicide rates.
Statistics released by the Crime Statistics Agency in September 2018 showed a 7.8% drop in the overall crime rate. The statistics showed the criminal incident rate fell to 5,922 cases per 100,000 people in the last financial year, continuing a trend of reduction in the overall number of criminal incidents from the previous year, with significant falls in theft, burglaries and drug dealing.
|Homicide and related offences||3.3||2.9||3.2||3.9||2.2|
|Assault and related offences||634.9||629.2||689.3||685.6||677.1|
|Abduction related offences||11.0||12.0||13.0||11.8||11.1|
|Stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour||186.6||200.4||205.0||186.3||182.8|
|Burglary/Break and enter||776.1||790.4||877.6||775.2||651.9|
|Drug offenses (total)||431.5||494.3||491.8||461.3||473.4|
Massacres of Aboriginal VictoriansEdit
Though often not recorded as crimes at the time, numerous crimes were perpetrated against Aboriginal Victorians throughout the colonial period. Among the most heinous of these crimes were massacres. The following list tallies the better documented massacres of Aboriginal Victorians. The information provided below is based on ongoing research 'Violence on the Australian Colonial Frontier, 1788–1960' undertaken by the Australian Research Council.
- 1833–34 Convincing Ground massacre – Between 60 to 200 Gunditjmara men, women and children were reported to have been murdered. Committed on the shore near Portland, Victoria, it was one of the largest recorded massacres in Victoria.
- 1839 Campaspe Plains massacre – Between 40–50 Daung Wurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung people were murdered by a group of settlers, led by Charles Hutton at Campaspe Creek, Central Victoria.
- 1839 Murdering Gully massacre – Around 35–40 Djargurd Wurrung people were murdered near Camperdown, Victoria. The massacre was committed by Frederick Taylor and others in retaliation for some sheep being killed.
- 1840–50 Gippsland massacres – Between 250 and 1,000 Kurnai people were murdered during a 13 year period, many of the murders were committed by groups led by Angus McMillan. 
- 1840 Fighting Hills massacre – Between 20 to 80 Jardwadjali men, women, and children were murdered by Whyte brothers (William, George, Pringle and James Whyte). Near Hamilton, Victoria. 
- 1840 Fighting Waterholes massacre – The Whyte brothers murdered a further 40 Konongwootong Gunditj people.
- 1843 Warrigal Creek massacre Between 100–150 Gunai people were murdered by a group of around 20 colonists led by a Scottish colonist and pastoralist, Angus McMillan.
Convicts were never directly transported to Victoria, however at least 300 convicts arrived in Sorrento in 1803 as part of Colonel David Collin's short-lived, first attempt at British settlement in Victoria, in 1804. This first group of convicts also included the famous escaped convict William Buckley. Over the following decades small numbers of convicts were sent from Tasmania and New South Wales to carry out government work, surveying and labour.
From the 28th of November till the 3 December 1854 the Eureka Stockade took place in what is now the suburb of Eureka, Ballarat. Gold prospecters staged an uprising against the colonial government which lead to an armed conflict; 22 miners and 6 soldiers were killed. The event is significant in Australian history, particularly in regards to the development of democracy. In the colony's capital of Melbourne there was enormous support from the public for the captured Eureka rebels, this support was one of the factors that lead to the creation of the Electoral Act 1856, leading to colonists being granted male suffrage, on condition of owning property, in the lower house in the Victorian parliament. 
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual AbuseEdit
In January 2012 widespread sexual and other abuse of children by personnel in religious organisations was exposed by the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry. The inquiry recommended that a formal investigation should be conducted into the processes by which religious organisations respond to the criminal abuse of children within their organisation. In response to the inquires recommendations, the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Ken Lay argued that the Roman Catholic Church's attempts hinder investigations be criminalised.
Later in 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, announced the creation of a Royal Commission into sex abuse within the Catholic Church. An estimated 60,000 Australians were abused in churches, schools, sporting clubs and health services, with the majority of the abuse occurring in New South Wales and Victoria. Institutions that failed to respond appropriately or effectively to widespread child sex abuse in Victoria include: the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church, The Salvation Army, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Australian Christian Churches, Australian Pentecostal churches, Yeshivah Melbourne and the Christian Brothers among others. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that one school run by the Christian Brothers, St Alipius boys school in Ballarat East, was staffed almost entirely by paedophiles.
The Royal Commission found many of the worst incidences in Victoria occurred in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ballarat. One of Australia's most infamous paedophiles, former priest Gerald Ridsdale was based in Ballarat and protected by church hierarchy, who shifted Ridsdale from parish to parish, between 1961 and 1988, in order to cover-up Ridsdales crimes. Ridsdale was convicted of 138 sex offences against children, he sexually abused as many as 50 children.
On 11 December 2018, Ballarat born former Cardinal George Pell, Australian prelate of the Catholic Church, was convicted on five counts of child sexual abuse of two boys in the 1990s, after a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict. The conviction makes George Pell the Catholic church's most senior official to be convicted of child sexual abuse.
Despite Melbourne's CBD having the state's highest crime rate (15,949.9) the city is considered one of the safest in the world, with Melbourne being ranked the 5th safest city globally. The notably low crime rate is one of the factors that lead to Melbourne being named the world's most liveable city by The Economist for seven years in a row up until 2017. The recorded homicide rate of Melbourne was 2.2 per 100,000 in 2018.
Notable major crimes and criminal figuresEdit
- Squizzy Taylor – Joseph Theodore Leslie "Squizzy" Taylor was an Australian gangster from Fitzroy, Melbourne. He was a prominent figure and appeared repeatedly in Melbourne news media. He was involved in the 1919 Melbourne gang war and was eventually shot dead in 1927. 
- John Wren – John Wren was an Australian underworld figure from Collingwood, Victoria. Wren is best known for being the real life inspiration for the fictional character of the same name in Frank Hardy's novel Power Without Glory.
- Mark "Chopper" Read – Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read was an Australian criminal, gang member and author. Read wrote a series of semi-autobiographical fictional crime novels and children's books and was the subject of the biographical film Chopper, starring Eric Bana.
- Russell Street bombing – The Russell Street bombing was a car bombing that took place in Melbourne's CBD in March 1986. The car bomb was detonated outside the Russell Street Police Headquarters complex in Russell Street, Melbourne. The blast killed a policewoman and injured 22 others.
- Hoddle Street massacre – The Hoddle Street massacre was a mass shooting that took place on a busy main road near the Clifton Hill train station, on Hoddle Street, Clifton Hill. The shootings resulted in the deaths of seven people, and serious injury to 19 others. Julian Knight, a 19-year-old former Australian Army officer cadet was arrested and charged for the shootings.
- Queen Street Massacre – The Queen Street massacre was a spree-killing committed by Frank Vitkovic. The spree-killing occurred on the 8th of December 1987 on Queen Street. Vitkovic killed 9 people including himself, and injured five others.
- The Pettingill family and the Walsh St killing – The Pettingill family was a notorious Melbourne-based criminal family headed by matriarch Kath Pettingill. Victor Peirce and Trevor Pettingill were accused and acquitted of the 1988 Walsh Street police shootings, with both acquitted along with two fellow defendants. Victor Peirce was later killed in the Melbourne gangland killings.
- Melbourne gangland killings – The Melbourne gangland killings were a series of 36 gang related murders committed in Melbourne between January 1998 and August 2010. The murders were widely seen as retributive, involving various Melbourne underworld groups. The majority of the murders are still unsolved. Now deceased underworld figure Carl Williams has been linked to a significant number of the killings. A number of notorious underworld figures were killed during the conflict including Lewis Caine, Mario Condello, Alphonse Gangitano, Charles Hegyalji, Graham Kinniburgh, Desmond Moran, Jason Moran, Lewis Moran, Nik Radev and Andrew Veniamin 
- Monash University shooting – The Monash University shooting was a 2002 shooting in which a 36-year-old international student killed students William Wu and Steven Chan, both 26, and injured five others including the lecturer. It took place at Monash University, in Melbourne, on 21 October 2002. The gunman, Huan Yun Xiang, was acquitted of crimes related to the shootings due to mental impairment, and is currently under psychiatric care. Several of the people present in the room of the shootings were officially commended for their bravery in tackling Xiang and ending the shooting.
- 2014 Endeavour Hills stabbings – The 2014 Endeavour Hills stabbings was a knife attack committed by Abdul Numan Haider. Haider attacked two counter-terrorism police officers with a knife outside the Victoria Police Endeavour Hills police station before being shot dead.
- Dimitrious Gargasoulas – Melbourne car attack – The January 2017 Melbourne car attack was a vehicular attack committed by Dimitrious Gargasoulas On 20 January 2017. Gargasoulas deliberately drove his vehicle into pedestrians in the CBD of Melbourne. Six people were killed and at least thirty others injured. Gargasoulas, was subsequently found guilty of six counts of murder.
- 2017 Brighton siege – The 2017 Brighton siege was an armed siege and shoot-out committed by Yacqub Khayre. Kayre murdered one person and held another hostage in an apartment complex in Brighton. The siege ended in a shoot-out with a police tactical unit, Khayre was killed and three police officers were wounded.
- Saeed Noori – Melbourne car attack – The December 2017 Melbourne car attack was a vehicular attack that took place on the corner of Flinders Street and Elizabeth Street in Melbourne's CBD. The attack resulted in the death of one person. seventeen others were injured in the attack.
- Melbourne stabbing attack – The 2018 Melbourne stabbing attack was a vehicular and knife attack committed by a mental impaired man, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali. Shire Ali set his car on fire and stabbed three people, one fatally, in the Central Business District of Melbourne, Australia, before being shot and killed by police.
- Apex – Apex otherwise known as the Apex Gang described an informal group of young male criminals accused of being involved in street crime in and around Melbourne, Australia, in 2015–18. The name was frequently invoked during the "African Gang Crisis" debate in the media in 2018. The nature and existence of the "gang" was uncertain and many claims regarding the group have been described as exaggerated by police, politicians, journalists and others. In November 2018, Victoria's County Court Chief Judge, Peter Kidd said that media reporting gives an exaggerated portrayal of how much crime before the courts is actually being committed by people from the African community, and that accusations by politicians and the media that judges are too soft on young offenders gives the public a "skewed impression" of how sentencing works.
- The "Apex Gang" was brought to national attention in early 2018 after the Federal Government's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, referring to African street crime, told Sydney radio station 2GB that
and in the ensuing public debate, various media invoked the Apex name in relation to this statement.
The Victorian public is really outraged by some of the goings on ... the reality is people are scared to go out to restaurants of a night time because they're followed home by these gangs, home invasion and cars are stolen... We just need to call it for what it is. Of course it's African gang violence.
- Victoria Police urged caution when describing the spate of activity as "gang crime". Victoria’s equal opportunity and human rights commissioner, Kristen Hilton, stated in response that to say that Victorians were scared to go out for dinner, or that there was a perceived lawlessness in Victorian society because of the African community was not only wildly inaccurate but very dangerous. Despite repeated media claims that the criminal groups are composed of largely Sudanese youths, police have stated that this is not the case and the groups include a diverse range of young people from different ethnic backgrounds, the majority of them born in Australia.
Rural and regional crimeEdit
The Mallee and Mildura in particular have long been associated with the Calabrian Mafia, with claims made by police in 1966 that annual organised crime meetings were held in Mildura to co-ordinate nationwide criminal activities. In a 1960's National Anti-Mafia Directorate report by John T. Cusack (United States' Bureau of Narcotics) and Dr Ugo Macera (assistant commissioner of police in Calabria) claims were made that the "ancient Calabrian Secret Criminal Society known as the L'Onorata Societa" and the "`Ndrangheta" were operating "throughout the State, with large segments in the fruit growing and farming areas of Mildura and Shepparton" adding that "There are reports the Society has existed in Victoria since 1930". They have reportedly been involved in revenge killings, cannabis production and weapons purchases.
During the 1980's the Mildura Mafia emerged as a major crime group that dominated marijuana production in Australia and ran an Australia-wide money-laundering network. Several notable mafia murders have been linked to the region including the suspected mafia hit on 43-year-old Marco Medici in 1983, police believe the murder may be connected to the assassination of anti-drug crusader Donald MacKay at Griffith in 1977. The 1984 murders of Melbourne gangsters Rocco Medici and Giuseppe Furina are also connected to Mildura through the Medici family. In 1982, 42-year-old Mildura greengrocer Dominic Marafiote and his parents were murdered after Marafiote gave South Australian police the names of Calabrian mafia bosses in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. In 2016 Mildura residents Nicola Ciconte, Vincenzo Medici and Michael Calleja were convicted and sentenced in Italy for their role in a plot to smuggle up to 500 kilograms of cocaine into Australia.
Rural methamphetamine useEdit
Beginning in 2010, Victoria has seen a significant increase in the use of Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as ice. While relatively few Australians report using ice compared to other drugs, rates of methamphetamine use are significantly higher among rural and remote areas of Victoria compared to major cities. Rural methamphetamine use rates are 2.5 times as higher than those in metropolitan areas. Prior to 2010 rates of use of illicit drugs in rural areas were significantly lower than those in the cities.
In 2014, A Comancheros Motorcycle Club member and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) sniper, Joshua Faulkhead, was arrested after being caught transporting large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy between Sydney and Mildura. Faulkhead was sentenced to nine years and five months in jail.
In 2015, 20 people were arrested over an alleged large drug trafficking operation in Mildura in north-west Victoria. Methamphetamine, marijuana and ecstasy were seized in the raids. The drugs seized were reported to be worth more that $15,000. $20,000 in cash and weapons were also seized. Later that same year, Stephen Gillard and Geoffrey Hitchenfrom South Penrith, were arrested for possession of $300,000 worth of methamphetamines in scrubland off the Mallee Highway at Tutye, west of Ouyen. Local farmers uncovered plastic fruit juice bottles containing the drugs after noticing the men behaving strangely the previous day.
In 2017, a joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation lead to the seizure of $2.4 million in cash at the Mildura Airport, after 255 kilograms crystal methamphetamine were found at a storage facility in Northern California in June. the bust was part of an investigation into an alleged conspiracy to use a light plane to export drugs from the US to Australia. The 72-year-old pilot, a 52 year old man, from Zetland in Sydney's east and a 58 year old Melbourne man were charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs and money laundering offences. The crystal methamphetamine was reported to be worth $255 million. That arrests were connected to $2.4 million which was found in Mildura, in a prime mover that was driven from Adelaide in April.
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- Fighting Waterholes massacre:
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- Moor, Kieth. "Police have new leads in the 1984 Calabrian mafia murders of Rocco Medici and Giuseppe Furina". Herald Sun. News Limited. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- Solomons, Mark. "Drug trafficker owns operation at centre of strawberry scandal". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- Articles about rural ice epidemic:
- "How many people use ice?". Cracks in the ice. Australian Government Department of Health. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- Verghis, Sharon. "'We Are Ticking Time Bombs': Inside Australia's Meth Crisis". Time. Marc & Lynne Benioff. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
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- Thals, Kaitlin. "Mildura project hailed a 'major success': Ice crush". Sunraysia Daily. Elliott Newspaper Group PTY Ltd. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- Percy, Karen. "Government taskforce targets ice trade in Mildura". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- Tran, Danny. "Rural Victoria's ice crisis claims more victims as drugs trash towns". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- Woodburn, Joanna. "Ice use in rural Australia double that of metropolitan areas, drug report shows". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- "Former ADF sniper and Comancheros bikie boss sentenced to nine years' jail for drug trafficking". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
- "'Ice', cannabis, ecstasy seized in Mildura drug raids". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
- "Pair plead guilty over methamphetamines found buried in remote bushland at Tutye near Ouyen". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
- "Three arrested as police bust alleged conspiracy to fly ice from California to Australia". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved 13 March 2019.