POLICE Minister Lisa Neville does not understand the anger felt within the Rochester and district community, according to member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh.
Mr Walsh, business owners and the wider community have had enough of increased crime and continue to push for a greater police presence. But without success.
In an answer to Mr Walsh’s call to increase police resources in town, the Minister downplayed the severity of crime within the town.
‘‘The latest Crime Statistics Agency data for Rochester shows there has been no increase in crimes against the person,’’ Ms Neville said in the response.
‘‘A decrease in drug offences of 17 per cent and a decrease in public order offences of 4.5 per cent (from 22 to 21 offences).
‘‘While theft increased from the previous year, the numbers have only risen marginally since 2013 (from 98 thefts in 2013 to 105 thefts in 2016/17).’’
Part of that ‘‘marginal’’ increase was 81 per cent in 12 months (from 58 to 105 offences).
Mr Walsh said in the response, received last week, Ms Neville showed no empathy for a community that has had enough.
‘‘The Minister has totally missed the point,’’ he said.
‘‘Her response clearly shows that the Minister does not understand the anger in the Rochester community about the regularity of break-ins and has little or no empathy for the fear felt by the more vulnerable in the community.’’
And the community continues to vent its frustration.
In a post on the Campaspe News Facebook page, the community said a greater police presence is needed.
Colleen Curran said given the area, and not just the population, the police do an amazing job.
‘‘But they are run ragged trying to keep up,’’ she wrote.
John Phillips added: ‘‘With the scourge of ice in country towns now, the government should be stepping up police numbers not cutting them back.’’
Megan Ilton said Rochester needs a manned 24-hour police station.
‘‘Echuca and Kyabram do not have the man power to cover the Rochester area as well,’’ she wrote.
Jane Shotton agreed: ‘‘As your local ambo I can say that increasing policing numbers, especially at night time, would help keep us all safer.’’
On June 20, Mr Walsh again raised the issue with the Police Minister, highlighting the petition organised by the Rochester Business Network which had more than 900 signatures.
‘‘The Rochester jewellery store has recently been robbed for the third time and is considering leaving town,’’ Mr Walsh said.
‘‘Rochester’s community is saying enough is enough.’’