Comments Off on Methamphetamine, family violence offences drive up Victoria’s crime rate

Drug crime in Victoria’s west has surged in a year as crystal meth continues  to creep into regional areas.

Police statistics show drug offences – including possession, manufacturing  and trafficking – more than doubled in some parts of the west last year.  Statewide, drug-related crimes rose by 12.3 per cent.

Social workers say increasing ice use is fuelling crime against property and  causing more mental illness and family breakdowns.

Data: Victoria PoliceData: Victoria Police

Crois O’Mahony, a spokesman for harm minimisation group Anex, said: ”You  can’t go anywhere where people aren’t saying, ‘There’s a lot of this going on in  my town.’

  ”It’s the same everywhere we go; people are at their wits’ end.”

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Lucinda Nolan said amphetamines, such as  ice, were a growing problem in the state, particularly in rural and regional  areas.

”It’s absolutely huge how it’s impacting on those families and those local  communities,” she said.

Drug-related crime more than doubled in the northern Grampians, up from 126  offences in 2012 to 280 in 2013. Spanning Ararat, Stawell, Warracknabeal and  Hopetoun, the region has a population of about 30,000.

Drug and alcohol treatment provider Grampians Community Health reported a  rise in amphetamine problems in recent years.

”Families have been on the verge of collapse, parents have suffered from  mental illness, and siblings have developed a hatred for their family member who  is dependent on the drug,” said counsellor Brendan Scale.

In the southern Grampians region, drug crime rates almost doubled in the  year, up from 94 to 183 offences.

Acting inspector Steve Thompson said that while most illegal drug activity  centred on the region’s main towns of Hamilton and Portland, residents of  smaller communities were increasingly under police scrutiny.

Cannabis cultivation had moved from large farm crops to indoor hydroponic  set-ups, he said, and many of the region’s drugs were trafficked from Melbourne  or over the South Australian border. Acting Inspector Thompson said soaring drug  crime was the result of police stepping up enforcement.

In Ballarat there was a 73.6 per cent spike in drug crimes, with 420 offences  last year.

Peter Cranage of UnitingCare Ballarat has seen a ”major increase” in people  treated for methamphetamine use in the past 12 months.

Mr Cranage said 193 clients from Ballarat and surrounding regions had  identified as ice users.

”There was probably only half those numbers the year before,” he said.  ”It’s just so accessible now in country areas. We’re seeing an increase in ice  and methamphetamines in all our programs.”

Mr Cranage said ice users were as young as 14 and parents were regularly  calling UnitingCare to discuss the effects of methamphetamines.

The devastating effects of the ice scourge is being examined as part of a  state government inquiry that has held sittings in regional towns.

The Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee is investigating supply  of methamphetamines, links to criminal organisations and ice culture,  particularly in rural areas.



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