By Michael Giles
THE crime figures came out last week and they showed a 14.5 per cent increase in the number of detected offences in the Bass Coast Shire and a drop by 3 per cent in the South Gippsland Shire.
In particular assaults are up, threatening behaviour is up, detection of weapons offences is up, the number of burglaries are up and breaches of court orders, principally breaches of family violence intervention orders, are also up.
In general the number, and or detection of sexual assaults is down.
However, you need to take these figures with a fearful grain of salt with policing in the Bass Coast PSA impacted not only by the change in policy to two-up policing but also our proximity to the Latrobe Valley, an area of the state with the highest incidence of crime per head of population.
No doubt this is a symptom of the high unemployment rates in the Latrobe Valley and the concern is this will only get worse over the next decade with the winding down of the power sector.
As much as there is a concern about people from Latrobe coming into this area to commit their crimes, it is also a problem for us because the allocation of finite police resources is a competitive process and we can’t compete for police with Latrobe which is included in our area for resource allocation.
The double whammy is that, not only is Latrobe sucking police numbers away from this area, but the change to two-up policing has reduced the visible presence of police and the number of issues that can be attended to by police in a timely manner, especially in country areas.
How much of an effect this has had on the detection and actual incidence of crime is anyone’s guess and should be the subject of a major State Government funded investigation.
We have received reports for example of it taking months for police to follow up on burglaries and other incidents.
The increased focus on family violence, and it’s an effort that is supported by the community, is also placing added pressure on police.
At the very least, police numbers covering this area must be at the required levels during busy holiday times, even if those police have to come from the Melbourne metro area rather than the Valley where there is definitely a growing problem.