Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Crime incidents on the rise in Benalla

Drug use and family violence incidents among the crimes that rose in Benalla in the past 12 months.

MONIQUE FREER September 4, 2014 3:23am

Inspector Dan Trimble

Drug use, theft from motor vehicles and family violence incidents are key increases in an escalation of crime offences in Benalla in the past 12 months.

The 2013-14 annual Victorian crime statistics released last week revealed a 13.2 per cent increase in the total number of crimes committed in the Benalla Police Service Area, which incorporates Benalla, Mansfield, Mt Buller/Mt Stirling and Murrindindi local government areas.

Between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 there was a 27.3 per cent increase in the number of drug offences committed in the area, compared to the same 2012-13 period.

Benalla Police Inspector Dan Trimble said the most worrying of these was the increase in ice (methamphetamine) use.

‘‘Ice is still of main concern for us, because of a lot of violence that seems to come with its use,’’ Insp Trimble said.

‘‘Especially where there’s prolonged use, of concern is that a lot of them are getting addicted ... and the flow-on effect is to keep that addiction up they commit crimes.’’

Although there was no change in the number of assaults excluding family violence, total assaults increased by 15.9 per cent in 12 months.

‘‘Family violence must and still remains a focus for police and we encourage all victims of family violence to report it to police and seek appropriate help,’’ Insp Trimble.

‘‘We’re being really active in encouraging people to report family violence and we’ve got a family violence member here that’s dedicated full-time to it.

‘‘We’ll hope that we’ll be able to break that cycle and we’re seeing also a bit of an increase with children committing violence against their parents as well, so that’s of concern to us.’’

Compared to the 2012-13 period there was a 20 per cent increase in property damage, however residential burglary decreased by 10.4 per cent and theft from motor vehicle decreased 31.9 per cent.

‘‘Although burglaries have seen a slight decrease they are still a concern,’’ Insp Trimble said.

‘‘These crimes are often committed by offenders who are opportunistic — especially on rural properties.

‘‘We ask that people be more vigilant and note down registration numbers and descriptions of any suspect vehicles.

‘‘The public can also assist by locking their vehicles and not leaving keys in farm equipment such as tractors, bikes and ride-on mowers.’’

The overall recorded crime rate across Victoria increased by 3.7 per cent, measured as a rate per 100000 of the population which is standard across Australia. The total number of offences recorded was up by 5.7 per cent.

Following three consecutive years of increased crime rates, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken 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.’’

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