A 2.5 per cent Victorian crime rate increase has been attributed to the ice epidemic, however local police say other factors could have contributed.
Crime statistics for 2014 showed there were 18,000 more reported offences than the previous year, with sexual offences, stalking, harassment and breaching of orders rising.
Latrobe Police Acting Inspector Jason Helps told The Express it was likely crime statistics increased for a variety of reasons and would not be entirely due to the use of methamphetamine, known as ice.
“Some of these factors include greater reporting of family violence incidents, increased detection of drug and deception crimes,” Act Insp Helps said.
“Illicit drug use and drug related crime continues to have a significant impact on the community, both in metropolitan and regional areas across Victoria and contributes to some of our property-related crime offences and our assault related offences.”
Act Insp Helps said ice was one of the many crime drivers being targeted by specialist units such as Family Violence Unit, Divisional Tasking Unit, Crime Scene Service and detectives from Criminal Investigation Unit, Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams supported uniform police.
Latrobe Valley Magistrate Clive Alsop has echoed these concerns regarding ice-related crime for the past few years, and said the crime rate rise came of no surprise to him.
“More and more of the court’s work is in relation to offences in which ice is involved,” Mr Alsop said.
“As an individual I am alarmed at the number of firearm offences which are arising directly from ice.
“I’ve never seen so many guns in all my involvement in the legal profession.”
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester put his Gippsland and regionally-focused worries about increased ice use to parliament last week.
When asked by The Express his thoughts on the recent State Government announcement of a $45 million package to combat ice use, Mr Chester said the problem should not be tackled by just one level of government.
“We need a bipartisan, national strategy on the drug ice, however this must also be backed by strong community involvement,” Mr Chester said.
“The answer is not in Canberra or Spring Street. We need more support for services delivered on the ground and for everyone in our community to make it clear we will not tolerate ice use.”