Gun crime in the south-west has more than doubled in a decade, new data reveals.
The latest Crime Statistics Agency Victoria figures released last week showed the number of firearm offences recorded in the south-west jumped from 57 to 152 in the past 10 years.
It's a 166 per cent spike across Warrnambool, Southern Grampians, Moyne, Corangamite and Glenelg local government areas.
The number of offences has steadily increased over that time with a notable rise of 25 per cent in the 12 months to June 2022.
The offences, which include both high-end offences and lower level crimes such as possessing an imitation firearm and incorrect storage, jumped from 121 to 152.
Earlier this year The Standard reported firearm burglaries had been an ongoing issue in the south-west for the past decade with those involved in the drug world able to cash guns in for illicit drugs.
Then in March, 24 firearms and more than 50 kilograms of drugs were seized in the south-west's largest firearm-focused operation in history.
Nine people were arrested during the five-day operation which saw local specialist police units and Melbourne's public order response team raid dozens of residential and rural properties.
Warrnambool police Acting Superintendent Josh Tink said Victoria Police had come a long way when it came to targeting firearm offences over the past decade.
He said divisional firearm officers were regularly paying visits to licensed firearms owners across the region and a "zero tolerance for non-compliance" meant they had no hesitation charging those in possession of illegal firearms or failing storage regulations.
"Illicit firearms have a devastating impact on the community. We know they are a great enabler of serious and organised crime," he said.
"They feature strongly in a range of offending such as drug manufacture and trafficking, homicides, armed robberies, extortions, aggravated burglaries, car-jackings and family violence."
Acting Superintendent Tink said Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs) had proved to be extremely instrumental in targeting illicit firearms in the community.
"Since they came into effect in 2018, police have issued FPOs to a range of known violent offenders across the region including outlaw motorcycle gangs and those within other crime groups," he said.
"We run regular FPO compliance operations to ensure prohibited persons are not in possession of a firearm or any firearm related items. If firearms are located during these searches, police will have no hesitation in charging the offenders and putting them before a court."
And while police would continue to target illicit firearms, Acting Superintendent Tink said licensed owners also had a role in preventing them from falling into the wrong hands.
"It's a timely reminder to all licensed firearms owners to ensure they are complying with the new firearms storage compliance regulations that came into effect from August 30," he said.
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