Call for action on regional crime
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.”