Drug offences climb

AN overall 41.6 per cent increase in drug-related crime in the Latrobe Valley has been attributed in part to a greater focus on these types of offences, according to Latrobe Service Area Acting Inspector Dean Thomas.

Victoria Police crime statistics released yesterday reveal there were 484 drug possession or use offences in the 2013-14 financial year, up from 328 in 2012-13, representing a 47.6 per cent increase.

Drug cultivation, manufacturing and trafficking increased from 119 to 149 offences.

Acting Insp Thomas said while the Valley had experienced an increase in crystal methamphetamine (ice) use along with rest of the state, this was only part of the reason for the increases.

“Although we have been focused on drug offences in the past, we have increased our resources and directed our focus more so to this type of offending,” Acting Insp Thomas said.

Wellington Shire recorded a 4.4 per cent decrease in drug-related crimes and Baw Baw Shire saw an increase of 2.7 per cent.

In Latrobe City, crimes related to weapons and explosives saw a 40.8 per cent increase, with 106 more offences recorded in the 12 months to June 2014 than the 12 months to June 2013.

Acting Insp Thomas said this crime increase was not due to more people carrying weapons, but rather police officers’ increased powers to search someone who they believed may be carrying a weapon.

However, the statistics also showed improvements in some areas.

Crimes against the person saw a modest decrease of 0.4 per cent, with robbery down 20.3 per cent.

Property burglary, other than aggravated or residential, was down by more than half, contributing to an overall decrease in crimes against property of 10.5 per cent.

Acting Insp Dean Thomas said preventing crimes against the person had been another police focus, with more police rostered during peak periods.