ELMORE’S spike in drug crime is not a cause for alarm, according to Campaspe police Inspector Geoff Owen.
Recorded drug offences jumped from 1 in 2016 to 28 in 2017, but Insp. Owen said the increase was due to a heavy police presence at the Earthcore Festival — including drug dogs searching vehicles and people entering the venue on the first and second day of the festival.
There were also arrests for drug offences inside the event.
Insp. Owen said without the festival, drug detections would have remained stable for Elmore, consistent with results the same as other towns in the Campaspe Police Service Area.
He said police would continue to focus on drugs as they impacted on other crime, especially drug addiction, which was a significant driving factor behind property theft.
And theft was still – slowly – on the rise in Rochester.
The Crime Statistics Agency data shows 67 thefts were reported in 2017, compared to 64 the year before and 47 in 2015.
Property damage has risen more than 35 per cent while burglaries and break and enters are up 12.9 per cent, from 31 in 2016 to 35 last year.
Crimes against the person and crimes against property rose 38 per cent and more than 10 per cent respectively.
Despite these gradual concerning increases in Rochester, Insp. Owen said local police were doing their utmost to crack down on crime in the region.
“In Campaspe, our tasking and co-ordination process, along with constant vigilance on crime issues and trends, and very importantly being aware where our recidivist offenders are residing, allows us to task our police patrols to be at the right place at the right time undertaking the right activities,” he said.
“We have also increased our disruption activity on our recidivist offenders and increased bail compliance checks.
“In the past few weeks in one instance, we checked on a bailed accused person who was often ringing us up voluntarily to say he was home and wanted to go to bed early and could police come around early tonight to check on him.
“This type of policing activity is holding accused persons to account ensuring bail compliance and keeping them looking over their shoulder.
“If crooks are looking over their shoulder wondering about police, they tend to not commit crime.”
“Drug use and trafficking is an ever-present scourge in rural areas, however there is a lot of information the public can provide to assist police,” Insp. Owen said.
“We urge people to contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers if they have information on criminal activity or drug trafficking. Information can be provided anonymously.
“Police will act on drug information provided by the public, as police need the community to be our eyes and ears. Unfortunately, police cannot cover all places and we need the public to provide us information to get ahead of the drug traffickers.”
Insp. Owen said policing service demand was being pulled across all aspects of community need, from family violence, road policing, mental health, recidivist disruption, victim support and responding to calls for help.
“I don’t think we have dropped the ball in respect to policing illicit drugs, just the demand for police service for other issues comes at the expense of drug action,” he said.
“We will ramp up our illicit drug activity, and recent successful drug search warrants in Campaspe were proof we still actively work in trying to stem the illicit drug flow into, and around, Campaspe.”
Insp. Owen also thanked the community for ringing 000 when they needed urgent police assistance rather than ringing their local police station which might be unmanned at the time.
“Reducing the time between a crime being committed and it being reported to police enhances the potential of the crime being solved,” he said.
Crime in Nanneella was down by 35 per cent, while Lockington’s has risen by more than 21 per cent.