Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Party drugs worry

Illicit drug use in the Benalla Police Service Area has skyrocketed according to the latest crime statistics.

December 5, 2012 9:44am

Illicit drug use in the Benalla Police Service Area has skyrocketed in the past 12 months according to Victoria Police crime statistics released last week.

Benalla Police Inspector Dan Trimble said the staggering 84 per cent increase was the direct result of successful undercover police operations conducted periodically during the past few months — and that campaign is expected to be ramped up during the Christmas and New Year period.

‘‘It is of concern to us, especially with the prevalence of party drugs like ice and ecstasy that we are seeing,’’ Insp Trimble said.

‘‘But cannabis is still the main drug used in this region.’’

Inspector Trimble has dubbed the undercover operations a success and said with it came the increase in statistics.

While drug crime continues to soar in the Benalla area, Insp Trimble said he was pleased to see an overall reduction in assaults. Assaults, excluding family violence, have reduced by 14.3 per cent in the past year — but assaults involving domestic violence have only decreased by less than five per cent.

‘‘The number of assaults resulting from family violence is still an issue, and we are encouraging people to report all incidents of family violence and seek appropriate help and advice if they are victims of any form of family violence,’’ Insp Trimble said.

He said another area of concern was the number of opportunistic crimes taking place, including burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles.

Residential burglary has increased by more than 10 per cent, with theft from vehicles also up 10 per cent. But there is some good news for locals: the number of cars stolen has decreased by almost 20 per cent.

‘‘I am happy with the results of our statistics overall but I would have liked to see a greater reduction in some areas like the theft from motor vehicles — a lot of those crimes are opportunistic.

‘‘With the burglaries we would encourage the community to register with us when they are going away and just tell the neighbours,’’ Inspector Trimble said.

Insp Trimble said thieves could be quite brash.

‘‘Sometimes they will just knock on your door and make up an excuse for being there, that’s how they tell if you’re not home. If you think it’s suspicious, note the registration details and contact the police or Crime Stoppers.’’

Insp Trimble said it was important to note that the increase in some statistics and decrease in others was not purely in the Benalla region. These figures consider three local government areas including Mansfield, Benalla and Murrindindi.

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