INVERLOCH saw a 60 per cent increase in property and deception offences in the year to March 2017, compared to the year prior.
Offences jumped from 93 to 149. The numbers could mean more people are committing crimes, or police are charging more offenders.
But the shutters are down so often at the Inverloch Police Station, locals say it can’t be the latter.
Gary Tayler from the Inverloch Business and Tourism Association met with Bass MP Brian Paynter and State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy on Tuesday, the Liberals’ spruiking their thoughts on increasing police presence in Bass Coast.
Cowes’ police officers are based at the San Remo station while works are completed at the new police station on Phillip Island.
“Leaving Phillip Island without a police station for 12 months is absolutely nuts,” Mr Paynter said.
Speaking about criminals finding soft targets in Inverloch, he said, “If you don’t see police presence, it just gives you the sense that ‘I can do this, I can get away with it and off I go’.”
He acknowledged it would be physically impossible to have every police station manned 24/7.
“But you’d certainly want them here when people are needing them most and particularly in those peak seasons,” Mr Paynter said.
“Areas like this need to be given proper consideration in terms of the influx of people over the busy periods and that’s where the demand is going to be.”
Inverloch Business and Tourism Association committee member Gary Tayler said the town needed an increased police presence, especially during the warmer months.
Mr Guy said Bass Coast has one of the fastest growing population rates in Victoria.
“You can have all the new police in the world, but if they haven’t got anywhere to operate out of, then you’re going to see towns like Inverloch left behind, Cowes left behind, where their operating hours are being reduced.”
He said during peak tourism season, it matters “immensely” that there is a police station open.
“If they [people] are in trouble, the first place they’ll drive to is a police station.
“We have to plan for the future as well, so reducing services when we have three per cent population growth here is crazy policy.”