EXTRA police and more office space at the Warrnambool police station has been paid for by the state government to tackle the region’s alarming crystal methamphetamine problem and the rise in reported family violence.
South West Coast MP and Premier Denis Napthine yesterday announced close to half-a-million dollars to refurbish the station watchhouse and provide better desk space and locker rooms for the bolstered number of frontline officers.
So far 19 more police have been added to the south-west region with another seven to soon follow.
Speaking in Warrnambool yesterday, Dr Napthine said the state would spend $463,000 on improving the layout of the station.
“It’s being driven by the expansion of the number of officers,” Dr Napthine said.
“Across the state we are seeing not an increase in family violence but an increase reporting of family violence. The evidence is that people feel more confident about reporting it because it’s treated more seriously by the police.
“Also unfortunately we are seeing a significant increase in ice and some of the associated drugs which are a real scourge in our community.”
Acting Superintendent Don Downes said extra police would be directed to both areas.
“We are getting another seven coming on board as well. They’ll give us the capacity to create some family violence units and other task groups to combat drug problems that we have in the community,” he said.
Acting Inspector Shane Keogh said walls had been removed around the criminal investigation unit to create extra space.
Last month the state government also announced a parliamentary inquiry to deal with the statewide crystal methamphetamine epidemic.
Dr Napthine warned “no soft option” would come out of the four-month probe and said the government would focus particularly on chemicals purchased for manufacturing the drug.
“Clearly we need to look at new strategies to deal with ice. Ice is one of the synthetic drugs people can make in these labs and we want to work out how we can deal better with some of the precursor chemicals,” he said.
Visiting Police Minister Kim Wells said the government would take a “two-fold” approach. “It’s cutting down the supply. They are starting to get these labs set up around country Victoria ... some are linked to bikies.
“We’re seeing an increase in family violence as a result of ice.”
Mr Wells said the latest statistics showed the crime rate in the Warrnambool area had gone down against the state trend.