Assaults, break and enters and thefts have plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Hunter Region but drug use and possession has jumped, new figures show.
According to localised data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, reports of domestic violence-related assault decreased in Newcastle-Lake Macquarie from 122 to 102 between March and April - down from 126 reports in April 2019. The Hunter Valley outside Newcastle experienced a similar drop in reports for the same period.
Non-domestic violence-related assaults also decreased in Newcastle-Lake Macquarie between March and April,from 146 cases to 79, while the Hunter Valley experienced a drop from 88 to 50 for the month-on-month period.
Reports of thefts from retail stores more than halved to 58 in Newcastle-Lake Macquarie, while break and enters at non-dwellings fell from 99 cases to 51.
Thefts from retail stores dropped by almost half to 34 in the Hunter Valley, while reports of stealing from motor vehicles went down from 103 to 62.
But the figures showed cases of drug possession and use were up across the region between March and April, with amphetamine possession or use more than tripling in the Hunter (20 to 67) and more than doubling in Newcastle-Lake Macquarie (23 to 47).
Cannabis use and possession also jumped, with the data showing more than twice the number of cases in the Hunter Valley between March and April (35 to 85) and almost double in Newcastle-Lake Macquarie (32 to 56).
The figures show that cases in 34 of the 62 key crime categories dropped in the month-on-month period in Newcastle-Lake Macquarie, while 12 categories had increased reports and 16 had no change.
In the Hunter Valley, 26 decreased, 22 jumped and 14 did not change.
It comes after the bureau revealed last week that crime had plummeted across NSW while coronavirus restrictions were in place.
The bureau's executive director Jackie Fitzgerald said it was not surprising that the huge social upheaval brought-on by the pandemic disrupted criminal activity across the state.
"It also seems likely that, as restrictions are relaxed and NSW residents resume regular activities, crime rates will return to normal levels," she said.
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