Gisborne tops list for drug busts

Proactive policing is largely responsible for a massive spike in drug busts around Gisborne over the past five years, the area’s top cop believes.

A Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) report released last week lists Gisborne as regional Victoria’s top spot for offence rates per 100,000 people – at 1743, they have quadrupled from 425 in 2011.

The report also noted that drug-use rates in country areas were no longer different from those recorded in metropolitan areas. However, Macedon Ranges police inspector Ryan Irwin said extra staff and improved techniques were a factor in the increase from 2011 until this year.

‘‘There’s certainly been an increase, but I wouldn’t think it has been anywhere near that dramatic in terms of the amount of drugs that are out there,’’ Inspector Irwin said.

‘‘It’s the result of a lot of proactive work. Police are out there pulling cars over, checking them and finding this stuff. The other part is that since the emergence of ice in the past couple of years, there’s been a real focus.’’

Checking everything that moves

Inspector Irwin said night shift crews had been instructed to ‘‘check everything that moves’’ in response to burglaries and thefts on commercial premises.

‘‘Because of that, they’re doing a lot of vehicle intercepts,’’ he said.

‘‘What’s a little more comforting is a lot of the arrests are people from outside the area.’’

Inspector Irwin said the Macedon Ranges Safety Committee’s efforts to create a regional ice strategy had been delayed slightly due to October’s Lancefield bushfire, but they would be completed next year.

‘‘That will include how we continue to raise awareness,’’ he said.

‘‘You won’t stop the people who get to the point of addiction through enforcement alone.

‘‘But education about the risks and how to get help once you get in that [drug] cycle … that’s the key.’’