Donna Stambulich – WAToday.com.auClinical Psychologist (Registrar)
Which Perth suburbs have the highest crime rates?
Ever wondered how your suburb stacks up against the rest of Perth when it comes to crime?
A per-capita breakdown of crime data obtained by WAtoday has revealed the suburbs with the highest crime rates in the metropolitan region, and laid bare an alarming increase in domestic violence.
Northbridge, unsurprisingly, tops the list as the suburb with the most misdemeanours per 1000 people last year, followed by Perth itself. Both are home to the majority of the city’s nightlife and entertainment venues, which attract visitors and escalate the opportunity for crime.
Despite topping the list for all the wrong reasons, both Northbridge and Perth have experienced a decline in crime in recent years, with the entertainment precinct seeing a 15 per cent decrease since 2021, and the CBD 3 per cent in the same time frame.
The City of Perth said this could be attributed to a collaboration with WA Police, hundreds of CCTV cameras, and 24/7 surveillance at a cost of more than $7 million.
The city also works with other community services “to assist in maintaining and improving safety” and spent almost $6 million on improved street lighting, a spokesperson said.
“For example, last week the City worked with Police and Street Chaplains to deliver its inaugural Safety After Dark engagement session for licensed premises, which focused on travel safety, observational awareness and use of car parks,” they said.
The south-eastern suburb of Cannington ranked third, having seen crime rates rise by nearly 50 per cent since 2014, with some domestic violence offences more than doubling in that time.
It’s a trend that’s reflected across the country, says clinical psychologist Donna Stambulich.
“We are all collectively more aware of DV and are talking about it more due to the media (news, socials), movies, advertising campaigns and education,” she said.
“In addition, the pandemic was the perfect storm for rises in DV. Factors like loss of income, financial stress, juggling child care, unprecedented stress and collective anxiety, being locked down with partners and unable to leave the home.
“People reported higher levels of drinking alcohol which also contributed to escalating DV numbers. I certainly saw this in clinical practice and am still dealing with the aftermath of problematic alcohol consumption.”
Cannington also made headlines last year for several crimes, including the violent sexual assault of a young woman in a park.
The eastern suburb of Midland ranked fourth on the top 10 list of suburbs with the highest crime rates.
Low socio-economic status and high crime go hand in hand, Stambulich said. Midland is also one of the cheapest places to live in Perth.
“It seems quite counterintuitive as we would assume that wealthier suburbs have more valuable goods,” she said.
“[But] there are several factors that discourage offending in well-off neighbourhoods. First, economic segregation means that affluent suburbs may be further away.
“Since travelling to different areas entails greater risks and increased effort, most potential offenders commit crimes close to home to minimise both. Additionally, this relies on the offender knowing about more valuable targets in affluent neighbourhoods.
“However, potential burglars are most aware of opportunities in the nearby and similarly disadvantaged areas (where most burglars reside), because that’s where their daily life occurs rather than the physically distant wealthier neighbourhoods.”
The centre of Midland is also just a few kilometres from where the location where Indigenous schoolboy Cassius Turvey was allegedly fatally bashed last year, an incident which garnered national headlines.
Despite the bad press, Midland has also seen a decline in crime in recent years, with a reduction in misdemeanours by 31 per cent since 2019.
Also in the top 10 are the suburbs of Burswood, Cockburn Central and Armadale, which have similarly seen a reduction in crime over the last nine years.
However, Karawara – seventh on the list – has seen an increase of 15 per cent in crime since 2014. As with many of the other suburbs, fraud has seen the biggest spike.
“The rapid advancement of technology, dramatic economic shifts, and the likelihood of an extended recovery effort off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, fraud and corruption attacks have changed over the last decade [have attributed to this],” Stambulich said.
“During economic downturns and crises, trends show that fraud typically peaks. Technology has had the biggest impact as to why this has so dramatically increased.”
The top 10 suburbs with the lowest crime rates
The good news is that the suburbs that sit on our top 10 list of the safest in Perth have seen some massive reductions in crime over the last nine years.
The brand-new suburb of Lake Coogee, only created in 2020 and home to nearly 5000 people, is the suburb with the least amount of crime per capita across the city.
Following Lake Coogee is Cardup, which has seen a 75 per cent reduction in crime since 2014, and Iluka, where crimes there have halved in the same time frame.
The hills suburb of Mount Helena is next, with just 16.3 crimes per 1000 residents committed there in 2022, a reduction of 64 per cent since 2014.
Burns Beach, Sinagra and Gooseberry Hill round out the list and have also experienced a reduction in recent years.
“Residents in wealthier suburbs tend to be more socially connected, which facilitates the ability to collectively address problems and are more likely to notice someone that does not belong,” Stambulich said.
“For example, I belong to a local residents’ Facebook page and my community are very active on it. We all keep each other notified if there are strange behaviours occurring, be that noises, people or dumping of bags or goods.
“Nowadays most of the homes in my area all have security cameras and often people are posting vision of strange/odd people that don’t seem to belong.”