Call for ac­tion on re­gional crime

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Lat­est crime sta­tis­tics plac­ing Hor­sham in the top five mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for recorded of­fences per head of pop­u­la­tion has prompted a call for gov­ern­ment ac­tion.

Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy said new Vic­to­rian Crime Sta­tis­tics Agency fig­ures showed recorded of­fences in the Wim­mera’s cen­tre rose 26.24 per­cent in 2018 from 2393 to 3021.

She said fig­ures had also risen sharply, by 22.5 per­cent, in South­ern Grampians Shire.

Ms Kealy said the data showed there had been a wor­ry­ing trend of in­creased crimes ‘against the per­son’ – the high­est quar­terly re­sult for the cat­e­gory. “In the cat­e­gory of pos­ses­sion of methy­lam­phetamine, ice, of­fences are up 16 per­cent for the last 12 months and 132.2 per­cent since the elec­tion of the An­drews La­bor gov­ern­ment,” she said.

“Of most con­cern is that 15 to 19-year-olds are the largest co­hort for crimes against the per­son, and drug use and pos­ses­sion across Vic­to­ria is up 12.3 per­cent from last year.

“The over rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the 15 to 19-year-old co­hort in vi­o­lent crimes against the per­son and its re­la­tion­ship with the in­crease in drug use and pos­ses­sion is a public pol­icy area that re­quires ur­gent at­ten­tion.

“If we don’t take ur­gent re­me­dial ac­tion now, this co­hort will be­come more hard­ened and vi­o­lent crim­i­nals in later years.”

Wim­mera po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Mar­getts said he be­lieved much of the in­creased crime re­port­ing was the re­sult of pre­ven­ta­tive po­lice work.

“One of the ma­jor in­flu­ences on fig­ures can be jus­tice pro­ce­dural mat­ters such as breaches of bail and in­ter­ven­tion or­ders, or breaches of per­sonal safety notices and reg­is­tered sex­of­fender su­per­vi­sion or­ders,” he said.

“All are re­ported as crimes, sim­i­lar to theft or as­sault, and are ma­jor driv­ers in pro­duc­ing crime fig­ures.

“We now have a fam­ily-vi­o­lence team, spe­cial­ist in­ves­ti­ga­tors and new teams in place to work on com­pli­ance with reg­is­tered sex of­fend­ers.

“From a po­lice per­spec­tive much of the in­crease in crime re­port­ing is com­ing from po­lice ful­fill­ing obli­ga­tions.”

Ms Kealy ac­knowl­edged Su­per­in­ten­dent Mar­getts’ po­si­tion, adding she be­lieved Wim­mera po­lice were per­form­ing strongly – de­spite a lack of re­sources.

But she said the data re­mained com­pelling, es­pe­cially in re­la­tion to a rise in crimes against the per­son in the past 12 months.

“Our hard-work­ing po­lice do a fan­tas­tic job with the re­sources at hand, but Premier Daniel An­drews has wa­tered down bail laws, weak­ened sen­tenc­ing and failed to equip our re­gional po­lice with ad­e­quate re­sources to pro­tect our streets, putting the lives and safety of all Vic­to­ri­ans at risk,” she said.

Ms Kealy said an in­ci­dent on the Western High­way in Stawell on Mon­day night high­lighted how po­lice ser­vices were un­der-re­sourced in the re­gion.

“We had a sit­u­a­tion in­volv­ing an in­di­vid­ual pedes­trian who was be­hav­ing er­rat­i­cally and cre­at­ing a haz­ardous sit­u­a­tion on the high­way,” she said.

“Po­lice had to come from Ararat to re­spond be­cause at the time there were no of­fi­cers in Stawell.

“This per­son could have walked into the traf­fic or caused an ac­ci­dent.

“Luck­ily noth­ing hap­pened, but you can’t help but feel for po­lice when they don’t have nec­es­sary re­sources.”

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