DRUG offences in the Warrnambool region have risen 14 per cent on the state government’s watch, the opposition has claimed.
Victoria Police figures for Warrnambool City had risen from 90 cases in the 2009-10 financial year to 103 in the 2012-13 period, a smaller rise than other regional cities.
Greater Shepparton has experienced the biggest rise out of all regional cities with drug crime rates there doubling during the same surveyed period.
Opposition police spokesman Wade Noonan said the state government’s frugal approach to police services funding had resulted in heightened drug crime rates.
“Under the Liberal Party, more people are turning to a life of crime and police aren’t getting the support they need,” Mr Noonan said.
“Drug crime doesn’t start and end with drugs — ice addiction ruins lives, destroys families and leads to increased crime such as assaults, burglaries and family violence.”
Police Minister Kim Wells said more than 1700 police officers had been recruited during the past four years, resulting in a 10 per cent increase in staffing levels across the south-west.
“Any increase in drug offences in regional Victoria can be directly correlated to the increased number of police officers targeting drugs offenders across the state,” Mr Wells said. “More police mean more detected crimes.”
Mr Wells said a proportion of new police officers have been specifically appointed to specialised taskforces set-up to combat drug manufacturing, distribution and detection.
“These police officers are getting drug offenders off the street and into custody,” he said.