By Kirra Grimes

OVER 100 Inverloch residents have signed a petition calling for a “continuous police presence” in the seaside town following a perceived increase in crime in recent months.
Local resident Veronica Jamison started the online petition three weeks ago, calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to “provide funding for the Inverloch Police Station to be manned on a 24/7 basis”.
“Crime is on the increase in Inverloch,” Ms Jamison’s request to the Premier states, citing recent burglaries of local businesses and homes, and graffiti and vandalism throughout the town, “to name but a few incidents”.
The Victorian Crime Statistics Agency latest data release reveals that crime has decreased in Inverloch over the past decade, from 263 criminal incidents recorded between March 2009 and March 2010, to 155 recorded between March 2018 and March 2019.
There have been a couple of spikes, in 2013 and 2017, but the overall trend has been downward, and the most recent figures seem to show that crime in Inverloch is the lowest it’s been as far back as the records go.
But Gary Tayler of the Inverloch Tourism Association, which represents over 70 Inverloch businesses, says there are other factors at play that could see the trend reversed.
“The stats we’re interested in are the ones that say the population’s been growing by 27 per cent since 2006,” Gary told the Sentinel-Times last week.
“And what’s even more interesting is the breakdown of that population: 17 per cent are under the age of 14, and 32 per cent are over 65.
“So, you’ve got half the population that could be considered ‘vulnerable’- they’re in need of an increased police presence,” he said.
The tourism association lobbied the then Bass MP, the Liberals’ Brian Paynter, on this very issue in 2017, but nothing came about.
Now, the association’s turning its attention to Jordan Crugnale, the Labor MP for Bass, who also happens to be a resident of Inverloch.
They plan to write a letter to Ms Crugnale, expressing their concerns, which have been heightened by the same recent incidents referred to in Ms Jamison’s petition, and, in some cases, the unsatisfactory police response.
“The sentiment is we don’t have enough police on the ground in Inverloch and Pound Creek,” said Gary.
“When a local business was robbed recently, for example, there was a considerable amount of time between the triple zero call and police turning up.
“That’s not to say the ones that are there aren’t doing a good job – they’re just not
there enough.
“If you go into the station, they’re not there. If you ring the station, the call goes to Wonthaggi.
“And when you consider the people moving in to the area – half the people are older or they’re families with young children – there’s a large percentage of people looking for security and they don’t feel they’re getting it.”
When the Sentinel-Times asked Ms Crugnale what she would do to address these concerns, Ms Crugnale said it was a matter for the Chief Commissioner.
“Inverloch receives a 24-hour police response to requests for assistance,” she said.
Ms Crugnale also said the Andrews Labor Government had funded 30 new police for Morwell Division, which services Inverloch.