THERE has been a 5.5 per cent drop in crime figures across the Warrnambool district but drug offences are up by almost 30 per cent.
Warrnambool Police Service Area Inspector Kevin Archer told the Victoria Police website the overall reduction was welcome for the district which covers the Warrnambool, Moyne and Corangamite council municipalities.
He claimed the 29.2 per cent increase in drug offences reflected the proactive approach police were taking in relation to the illegal use and possession of drugs.
“These offences affect both the user and the community in relation to health and support services,” he said.
“Family violence also remains a priority and is reflected in the increased reporting. In June, the division will establish a family violence unit that will be providing support and specialist approach to family violence incidents.”
The statistics compare figures from between April last year to March this year with the 12 months previous.
Inspector Archer said burglaries, both residential and break-ins at commercial premises, was another crime where there had been a rise.
“These offences continue to be a priority for the crime investigation unit and improved analytical support will assist us in identifying patterns and enable timely allocation of mobile patrol units,” he said.
“Home and business security is something that everyone can influence and we have a crime prevention officer at the Warrnambool police station who can assist in security advice.”
Inspector Archer said that earlier this month the annual three-day Warrnambool May Racing Carnival was held with regular staffing levels supplemented by police officers from Melbourne.
“While there were a number of arrests for public drunkenness and fines for offences relating to public disorder, overall the public enjoyed the atmosphere during the week in an environment made safer through a visible police presence,” he said.
Opposition spokesman for police James Merlino said the state government’s ‘tough on crime’ agenda was in tatters, with new statistics revealing overall crime has increased for the first time in more than 10 years.
“These statistics are damning — not only has the overall crime rate increased for the first time in a decade, but there is an increase in every category of crime,” he said.
Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said family violence-related crime was driving up the statistics with victims increasingly willing to report such offences.
“Increased efforts in detecting, investigating and charging those people who use or sell drugs has also led to an increase in total crime,” he said.
“But there are also some matters of concern within these statistics, such as an increase in robberies. Much of this is street-related youth crime — targeting cash and high value portable items such as mobile phones, MP3 players and tablet devices.”