Recorded drug offences double in Bendigo

Inspector Peter Greaney

Inspector Peter Greaney

UPDATE 10AM: The number of drug offences recorded in Bendigo has more than doubled in the last year, with the overall crime rate up by 1.5 per cent in the region. 

Along with the 107 per cent rise in drug offences, robbery, burglary and theft from a motor vehicle also increased significantly. 

Assaults excluding family violence were down 18 per cent and there was a drop in overall assaults and motor vehicle thefts.

Inspector Peter Greaney said the latest crime and traffic statistics highlighted the excellent work being done by the dedicated police in Bendigo to reduce crime.

He said the increased drug offences were a direct result of a crackdown in the region. 

"There has been significant work performed over the past twelve months to address drug offending with a 107.7 per cent increase in the number of offences detected," he said. 

Inspector Greaney said there had been a reduction in the number of crimes against the person and property, but police would continue to target the number of residential and commercial burglaries - which increased in the last year.

"The number of thefts from motor cars has also increased and police will continue to work towards reducing this trend," he said. 

"Some of the issues that we will tackle include property crime, family violence, road trauma, drug and alcohol related crimes and public order.

"My focus will be on providing the best possible policing service to the community of greater Bendigo."

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the alarming drug figures came as Labor announced a drug intervention policy, which would be implemented if Labor is elected at the Victorian state election. 

Ms Edwards said the plan included $15 million in funding for added drug and booze buses around the state, and $500,000 for grassroots groups across regional Victoria.

She disagreed that the drug offence increase was a result of increased drug raids. 

"This shows an increase in number of people using drugs (in the region), there's no doubt about that," she said. 

EARLIER: THE overall recorded crime rate across the state has increased by 3.7 per cent in the last year, with the number of offences up by 5.7 per cent. 

It is the third time in a row that crime rates have increased. 

Sex crimes, rape, handling stolen goods, deception and theft from motor vehicles are among the crimes that have increased. 

Drug offences increased by 6.5 per cent, family violence was up by 5.7 per cent, and other crime such as weapons/explosives offences, justice procedures and harassment increased by 18.6 per cent.

However robberies, homicide, assault, theft and arson are all down on last year. 

The statistics compare the 12 months to June 2014 with the 12 months to June 2013. 

Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said a quarter of Victoria’s crime over the past financial year could be contributed to family violence incidents and detected crimes such as drug use and possession. 

Family violence incidents equated for more than 40 per cent of crime against the person offences – up by 5.7 per cent – significantly driving up the number of reported offences in the categories of assault, rape and sex.

While there was an increase in family violence-related assaults (up 6.2 per cent), Mr Lay said the data showed there has been a decrease in non family violence-related assaults (down 1.8 per cent). 

Mr Lay said it was time for police to re-evaluate how crime should be policed in Victoria. 

“While the traditional model of policing is serving us well in pushing down crime in areas such as robberies, burglaries and theft, we need to look at a new way to address emerging crime trends,” he said. 

"It's important Victoria Police becomes a flexible organisation, ready to dedicate specialist resources to emerging issues such as organised crime, our community’s battle with ice, cyber crime, historical sex abuse and deceptions."

He said victims of sex abuse now felt more comfortable to report to police, as they were confident the matters would be investigated.

“The crime landscape is changing and Victoria Police needs to evolve with it to ensure we keep up with things such as rapidly changing technology which has resulted in new ways of committing crime as well as new types of crime," Mr Lay said. 

“These issues will continue to be a challenge for us into the future.” 

The annual statistics can be viewed at www.police.vic.gov.au 

More to come. 

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