CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The number of violent crimes in the University of Illinois crime-reporting area declined in the year ending Aug. 31, statistics released this week indicate.
The number of incidents of public indecency and Peeping Toms increased during the same period, mostly as a result of a series of repeated, similar incidents, UI police said.
"We have over the past years done a lot of work in the area of informing the community about how to avoid becoming a crime victim," UI Police Chief Oliver J. Clark said.
"We'd like to think the decline in violent crime on and near campus is at least partly a result of our informing and educating the public about how to protect themselves."
Clark said the similarity in circumstances and locations of the public indeceny incidents have led investigators to believe the incidents are related.
There were 81 reports of aggravated assaults and batteries on the UI campus from Sept. 1, 1999, through Aug. 31, 2000. In the 12 months prior to that reporting period, there were 112 such reports. Criminal sexual assault reports also declined slightly, from 22 to 19 in the most recent 12-month period. Robberies also were down, from 48 to 41.
During the 12 months ending Aug. 31, police received 29 reports of public indecency and Peeping Toms, up from 22 during the prior reporting period.
"Crimes of violence are going down, not necessarily significantly, but they are creeping down," Clark said. "That's a national trend, too, and our numbers are reflecting that trend."
The annual statistics also show that the use of alcohol and drugs plays a significant role in the crimes committed, Clark said. Alcohol and drugs play a prominent role in fights -- aggravated assaults and batteries -- and criminal sexual assaults, either by the assailants or victims. The alcohol- and drug-use information included in the crime report shows that 50 of the victims of aggravated assaults and batteries had been drinking or using drugs. And in criminal sexual assaults, 13 victims had been using drugs or alcohol, according to the statistics, while 10 suspects were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The UI crime report includes incidents that occurred in an area that extends from University Avenue to Windsor Road, and from Neil Street to Lincoln Avenue. This area includes both university and non-university property.
The numbers indicate that the most frequent victims of aggravated assaults and batteries in the campus area are male students, ages 18 to 20, who are out after midnight on the weekends. Frequently, police said, men who've been drinking leave bars either thinking they are safer than they are or feeling more aggressive than they would be if sober.
"This is a message," Clark said, "that we repeat every chance we get: Walk in groups, stay in well-lighted areas and consider the possible consequences to your safety if you engage in drinking or drug use."