Hard work sees more caught

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By Hay­den Thom­son

The num­ber of peo­ple caught cul­ti­vat­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing drugs in Greater Shepparton jumped 142 per cent this year, fresh fig­ures from Vic­to­ria’s Crime Sta­tis­tics Agency has re­vealed.

From the mid­dle of July last year un­til the end of June this year, 46 peo­ple were found to be cul­ti­vat­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing drugs — com­pared with 19 in the pre­vi­ous pe­riod.

Greater Shepparton po­lice In­spec­tor Haydn Downes put the fig­ure down to good work from Shepparton po­lice’s Di­vi­sional Task­ing Unit.

‘‘The huge in­crease (can be put down to) the amount of of­fend­ers pro­cessed by the unit . . . who have cap­tured a lot of peo­ple deal­ing and grow­ing drugs,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s why it’s gone up . . . we think it’s good work . . . that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has lead to an ar­rest.’’

Insp Downes said mem­bers of the pub­lic who pro­vided po­lice with in­for­ma­tion helped bust a num­ber of crop houses in the re­gion.

‘‘We’ve found a lot of crop houses over the last 12 months . . . so con­tinue to ring Crime Stop­pers be­cause the in­for­ma­tion will come through to us,’’ he said.

In Shepparton more specif­i­cally, weapons and ex­plo­sives of­fences sky­rock­eted more than 60 per cent, along with pub­lic nui­sance of­fences, which grew 32.1 per cent.

‘‘A weapon could be as sim­ple as a pocket knife or a per­son in a car with a base­ball bat . . . it’s a myr­iad of stuff,’’ Insp Downes said.

‘‘This goes to show we’re out do­ing the work and thor­oughly check­ing peo­ple.

‘‘Pub­lic nui­sance of­fences ris­ing is also good work by po­lice be­cause they’re all de­tected of­fences . . . we’re putting more pa­trols out on Fri­day and Satur­day nights and peo­ple are get­ting pinged.’’

Greater Shepparton re­mains fourth on the list of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Ar­eas across the state, with one of the high­est of­fence rates per res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion.

Across Vic­to­ria, the over­all crime rate has fallen for the first time in six years and Po­lice Min­is­ter Lisa Neville said the re­sults showed the gov­ern­ment was head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

‘‘Be­cause of the re­lent­less ef­fort by our po­lice, com­bined with new re­sources and com­bined with new ca­pa­bil­i­ties . . . we now see the crime rate head­ing in the di­rec­tion,’’ Ms Neville said.

State Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Luke O’Sul­li­van re­it­er­ated the call for Pre­mier Daniel An­drews to adopt a tougher manda­tory sen­tenc­ing pol­icy.

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