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Crime rate drops but arrest rate soars

THE crime rate has dropped over the past five years in New South Wales but new figures suggest there has still been a significant rise in court appearances.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research's annual Criminal Courts Report reveals 131,226 defendants fronted criminal courts in 2015 - up 3841 on 2011's figure.

About 5000 more people fronted the Local Court last year than in 2011, and the District Court dealt with nearly 500 more people than it did five years ago.

"The total growth in persons facing criminal charges would have been even higher but for the fact that the NSW Children's Court experienced a substantial fall in workload," the report stated.

"The total number of young people appearing in the NSW Children's Court fell by 21% between 2011 and 2015."

BOCSAR director Dr Don Weatherburn suggested the falling crime rate meant police resources were less stretched and were able to arrest more offenders.

"The growth in arrests has resulted in more defendants being refused bail and more being sentenced to prison," he said.

"The percentage refused bail increased only slightly (up 2.11 percentage points) but the increase in the number of people charged with serious criminal offences caused the number refused bail to increase substantially (up 35.9% from 8365 in 2011 to 11,368 in 2015)."

The crimes with the biggest increases were drug offences (up 46.8% over the period from 2011 to 2016), offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations (up 41.9%), abduction, harassment and other offences against the person (up 35.9%) and sexual assault and related offences (up 28.8%). -ARM NEWSDESK