​Sexual assault rates rise by a third

Sexual assaults in Katherine have risen by a third in the past year.

According to police crime rates released on Friday, house break-ins also rose by a third. 

Katherine’s crime statistics show there is more than one assault each day (466 last year) and cases of property damage rose by 27 per cent.

Sexual assault cases fell 7.3 per cent in Darwin, 14.7 per cent in Palmerston and stayed at the same level in Alice Springs during the same period.

Despite the startling numbers, Police Commander, Matthew Hollamby said the Katherine crime rise was “anticipated”.

Commander Hollamby said police conducted two special operations during the Christmas school holidays, Peccato and Viktor, involving general duties and specialised police sections.

He said the operations “engaged” with the local youth and community to reduce crime and improve community safety.

He said while assaults rose by eight per cent, “the figures still remain at the second-lowest level over the last six years”.

“We have seen reductions in the proportions of assaults that are associated with alcohol or domestic violence, though these factors still contribute to more than two-thirds of assaults in the area,” he said.

Commander Hollamby said Katherine had been affected by a rise in property crime during the school holiday period, along with an increase in people within the town “due to recent severe weather systems”.

Commander Matthew Hollamby.

Commander Matthew Hollamby.

A NT Government media spokesman said the statistics also showed some crime categories had fallen in number and highlighted commercial break-ins (minus 18.7 per cent) and motor vehicle thefts (down 5.4 per cent).

A government spokesman said while commercial break-ins are up by 90 per cent in Darwin they have dropped by 18 per cent in Katherine. 

“The big problems in the NT at the moment are commercial break-ins and motor vehicle thefts and they have both decreased in Katherine,” the spokesman said.

The NT Government passed amendments last week, allowing police to use electronic monitoring on juvenile offenders.

The first phase of monitoring will be rolled out in Palmerston and Alice Springs with Katherine expected to follow in the next three months, a government spokesman said.

Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson told the Legislative Assembly last week she had “reservations” about electronic monitoring. 

“We need to further understand the legal, ethical and practical issues surrounding electronic monitoring, and despite that electronic monitoring has been in use for at least two decades, I do have some reservations,” Ms Nelson said.

“If the alternative is remand then this is a good enough argument for me to support this bill.”

Commander Hollamby said ​Katherine police recognised the importance of strengthening the relationship between the youth and local police “as these improved relationships will not only reduce crime, but also importantly helps youth achieve more success within areas of education, health and social opportunities”.

“Police ask for your help in this area by continuing to make life difficult for criminals, by ensuring you secure your valuable items and reducing opportunistic crimes, where offenders continue to enter through unlocked doors, helping themselves to your property.

Northern Command police encourage the community to report all suspicious activity and offending by reporting crimes to 131 444 or via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.