Family violence has soared to record levels in Victoria, with protracted COVID-19 lockdowns and increased reporting cited as reasons for the rise.
The latest Crime Statistics Agency figures for the 12 months to March 31 show one in five (21 per cent) of offences recorded related to family violence.
These offences jumped from 101,037 to 112,432, representing 31 additional offences each day.
The CSA said the 11.3 per cent rise was driven by increased breaches of family violence orders (up 18.4 per cent) and family violence-related common assaults (up 5.9 per cent).
Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said the family violence crime wave was likely linked to Victorians spending more time at home during the pandemic and greater reporting stemming from police initiatives such as Operation Ribbon.
"Certainly during the last 12 months, particularly during the pandemic, we've been very focused on proactive policing to ensure victims are being safe during lockdown," he told reporters on Thursday.
The same factors were attributed to a 17.5 per cent rise in drug offences compared to the previous year.
Shadow Police Minister David Southwick said it was evidence lockdowns should only be used as a last resort.
"When we see a situation where the most vulnerable people have been locked down, the result of that is very clear," the Liberal MP told reporters.
Overall, Victoria's recorded offences rate and the number of offences dropped by 1.8 per cent.
While pleased with the result, Mr Nugent said it could have been even starker if not for 37,939 fines being handed out for breaches of the Chief Health Officer's health directions.
He revealed only 25 per cent of fines have been paid to date, with roughly 2000 reviewed and withdrawn and another 2000 taken to court.
"We understand around 25,000 have defaulted to Fines Victoria that have not been paid," Mr Nugent added.
With the COVID-19 fines removed, overall offences were down by 8.8 per cent.
That decrease would have classified as the largest crime reduction in Victoria since the introduction of the Law Enforcement Assistance Program crime reporting database in 1993.
There were also 44,000 fewer thefts, 30,000 fewer homes and business break-ins, 5500 fewer cars stolen, 1500 fewer people robbed on the street and almost 1000 fewer serious assaults compared to the previous 12 months.
"We are well aware the crime stats are more than just statistics though. They're more than just numbers," Mr Nugent said.
"They relate, for the most part, to the victims, and many of whom are affected for months and years and sometimes a lifetime."
Mr Nugent conceded it would be a tough task to keep crime rates from rising as restrictions continue to ease after the state emerged from its fourth lockdown.
"(We're) working really much closer with the community, looking at target hardening of areas and looking at how we can prevent any return to pre-COVID levels of crime," he said.
"But we also know that will be a challenge the more people do return to their normal lives out of COVID."
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Australian Associated Press