Bendigo’s police inspector believes alcohol and drugs are fuelling the city’s increasing crime rate.
Police figures released yesterday show 6783 offences were recorded in Bendigo last year, a 15.6 per cent rise on 2011.
Bendigo Inspector and Acting Superintendent Brad Dixon said the figures weren’t surprising.
He said part of the increase could be attributed to more open reporting of family violence, but broader issues of drug and alcohol abuse continued to be a factor.
“We’re trying to dig down into causes of crime,” he said.
“Some of that is put down to drugs such as ice, which contributes to other offences and burglaries.
‘’It’s something we’ve been targeting and we’ve increased the amount of people arrested for drug offences.”
Police figures show drug offences rose 37.8 per cent in 2012.
Assaults, including family violence, increased by 18.3 per cent while car theft jumped 34.1 per cent.
Inspector Dixon said societal issues such as drugs, alcohol and family violence had played a role in the rising crime rate.
He said alcohol was by far the biggest issue and police would continue to crack-down on alcohol-fuelled violence in Bendigo’s Central Business District and around nightclubs.
“We’re continuing to work in that area,” he said.
“Property damage has gone down in areas where we’ve had visible patrols. We’re focusing heavily on the CBD late night venues.”
Police Minister Peter Ryan said having more police on the job, and more people feeling comfortable about reporting family violence, led to increased detections.
Mr Ryan insisted the government’s law and order policies were working despite the rise in crime.
“Increasingly, Victoria is a safe place to live, but the important thing is we have to get the police out there and those PSOs (armed guards at train stations),” he said.
Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said statewide figures showed crime was on the rise and a lack of funding for police was to blame.
She said assaults were out of control in regional Victoria and the Baillieu government’s key election promise to get tough on crime had failed.
“This is what happens when you ignore the causes of crime and fail to put in any measures to prevent crime,” she said.
Inspector Dixon said police would have an added presence at large events with Bendigo having a busy period in the next month.