POLICE will search members of the public in Bendigo's centre as they fight a sharp increase in "edged-weapon offences".
Victoria Police has declared parts of Bendigo a designated area on Thursday, giving officers the power to search people for weapons without a warrant.
Bendigo Senior Sergeant Brian Hansen said the move - named Operation Omni - was in response to a series of reported crimes in which offenders used edged weapons.
Senior Sergeant Hansen said police were "really concerned" about the number of assaults with edged weapons taking place in Bendigo's central business district.
He said a "significant increase" in this type of offence dated from the start of January, a trend police had not seen for quite a long time.
Senior Sergeant Hansen said public spaces in Bendigo should be safe to use for all people, without being disrupted by people committing crime.
"We're using these powers specifically in the CBD area where these offences have occurred ... [to] send a message to the community that we are on top of these things, and disrupt some of that behaviour," he said.
"To support local residents and local businesses, we've put together this operation to [take] some action."
The designated area is in place from 10am to 5pm.
It spans View Street between Park Lane and Pall Mall, the south area of Rosalind Park, Mundy Street, Railway Place and Edwards Street, but not including those roads.
It gives police the power to stop any person within the area between 10am and 5pm, and search for weapons. They can also search anything in the possession or control of the person, any vehicle with a person, and any thing in or on the vehicle.
Police may also detain a person or vehicle long enough to conduct a search, seize and detain any item they suspect is a weapon, and request a person who is the subject of a search to disclose their identity.
The Victoria Police website says the organisation may declare a public area to be "designated" if they satisfy the Chief Commissioner that there has been more than one act of violence or disorder with a weapon in the previous 12 months, and there is a likelihood this will happen again.
They may also declare a designated area if there has been violence or disorder with a weapon at an event or celebration, that is happening again.
Police can declare a designated area for up to 12 hours.
Senior Sergeant Hansen said the designated area and timing had been decided based on offence times and officer availability.
He said people in Bendigo's centre could expect a heavy concentration of police in the area, including outside resources such as Public Order Response Team units.
Officers would use their powers under the Control of Weapons Act to search people they identified worthy, he said.
Victoria Police identifies prohibited weapons as items inappropriate for general possession and use without exemptions. They include imitation firearms, body armour, swords, daggers, and a range of knives.
Senior Sergeant Hansen said police would process anyone found with weapons in the normal manner, under the provisions of the weapons Act, 1990. He said they would be arrested, charged at Bendigo Police Station and taken to court.
Senior Sergeant Hansen said police may revisit the operation in coming months, but it would depend on the community response and any intelligence they received.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: