Domestic violence has contributed to an almost 70 per cent spike in the number of reported murders in South Australia over the past year, police say.

The latest monthly crime statistics released by SA Police show 22 murders were reported across the state between April 2023 and March 2024 – a 69 per cent increase from the 13 murders reported the year prior.

SA Police said arrests had been made for each of the 22 reported murders over the past year and said most were associated with domestic violence-related incidents, mental health, robbery or drugs.

“While not minimising the impact each of these incidents has on the victim’s families, such an increase can be regarded as a statistical outlier,” SA Police said in a statement.

The overall number of family and domestic abuse-related offences against the person reports increased by 14 per cent over the past reporting year, with 1,111 reports made in March this year alone.

Groups working to end domestic violence have been calling for gender-based violence to be declared a national emergency.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

The release of the data comes after the SA government in March announced it had appointed former senator Natasha Stott Despoja to head the state’s Royal Commission into Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence.

The $3 million inquiry, to begin in July, was prompted by the deaths of six South Australians from alleged family and domestic violence late last year.

Mary Leaker, from SA’s peak body for family and sexual violence services Embolden, said 31 women across Australia had been killed, allegedly at the hands of a man known to them, so far this year.

She said the royal commission would explore the safety barriers confronting women and children at risk of or experiencing violence.

“Through the royal commission, it’s really important that we turn the spotlight on people who are using violence, who we know are predominantly men,” she said.

“A key part of this is looking at how we can better prevent and disrupt violence by high-risk perpetrators.”

About 58 per cent of shop theft offences committed in the city occurred at Rundle Mall, according to police.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Spike in shoplifting reports ‘expected to continue’

SA Police said shoplifting reports had also increased by 29 per cent over the past year.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, 18,794 shop thefts were reported – up from 14,602 the year prior.

Almost 58 per cent of reported shop theft offences committed in Adelaide’s CBD occurred in Rundle Mall.

“In SA, police have been working proactively with the retail sector and individual businesses in the city that have been frequently targeted to reduce the harm caused by recidivist offenders,” SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.

“This significant factor has contributed to businesses increasing their reporting, which has in turn assisted police in combating the problem.

“This increased reporting trend is expected to continue and will further elevate the statistics.”

Extra police officers and security personnel have been patrolling Rundle Mall in a crackdown on violent behaviour since March.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

In March 2022, SA Police launched Operation Measure to combat retail shop theft in the city.

The operation has so far resulted in 1,383 apprehensions and more than 8,000 charges being laid.

Extra uniformed officers supported by the specialist Security Response Section, mounted police and the dog operations unit began patrolling Rundle Mall in March this year, following a string of violent incidents.

The crackdown resulted in the arrest of 28 people and a further 20 shop theft offence reports in just one day.

Fraud, deception reports drop

SA experienced an overall increase in crime reporting over the past year, but not all offences are on the rise.

Reports of fraud, deception and related offences dropped by 36 per cent, while reports of robbery and related offences dropped by 11 per cent.

However, SA Police said aggravated robbery offences increased by 17 per cent, with an additional 74 offences recorded over the past year.

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