By Shelby Brooks

CRIME in South Gippsland has fallen in the last three months following the area’s worst year for criminal incidents, Superintendent Mick West said.

Following the 13.5 per cent increase in criminal incidents in the year ending June 2020 in the South Gippsland Shire, 17 new police officers have been deployed to the local police area.

“In July, August and September crime figures have trended down in Bass Coast and South Gippsland,” Superintendent West said.

He said the recent figures ending in June contributed to the number of extra police officers hired in the area.

The 11 senior constables, three senior sergeants, one crime scene expert and two senior detectives have started in the police service area that encompass South Gippsland and Bass Coast.

Six of the senior constables have been deployed to the Wonthaggi Police Station, with Inverloch, Leongatha and San Remo stations also receiving new officers.

“We particularly try to recruit from around here because we know that people have roots here and they’ll come back and be part of the community,” Superintendent West said.

The new officers come off the back of the biggest investment in regional policing in Victoria Police’s 167-year history.

In March, it was announced the Bass Coast, Baw Baw and La Trobe police service areas would receive 79 additional police over the next 12 months – the most significant number of new police ever provided to the region in one allotment.

Superintendent West said at this stage, there was still no plan to make any other police station 24 hours in Bass Coast or South Gippsland, in addition to Wonthaggi.

“This discussion has been going on for 30 years,” Superintendent West said.

“We run a second divisional van generally out of South Gippsland, so you have a 24-hour response.

“You live in a lovely area over there [South Gippsland] you haven’t got anywhere near the crime rate as say Latrobe, Morwell, Traralgon, Moe or Pakenham.”

In the last 18 months, an extra four family violence specialists were hired in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast area.

Family violence order breaches were the highest type of criminal offence recorded in South Gippsland and Bass Coast LGAs in the year ending June 2020.

“All crime is something to be concerned about,” Superintendent West said.

“Latrobe has, per capita, the highest number of family violence breaches across the state.”