Sunbury crime rate spike not necessarily a bad sign

Drug offences and breaches of court orders have driven a 30 per cent hike in the Sunbury crime rate.

But Hume police’s Inspector Anthony Brown said higher numbers were not necessarily a bad sign, given a string of successful drug raids.

Data released by the Crime Statistics Agency last Thursday reveals 3303 offences were recorded in the year to March 31, up from 2534.

There were 279 drug offences detected in post code 3429, up 55 per cent.

Justice procedures, including breach of court orders, also soared from 211 to 573 cases over the same period – more than 170 per cent.

Inspector Brown said: “Extra support has led to increased patrols, which have led to increased arrests and detected offences.

Obviously, drug use in general, we don’t see as good, but the fact we’re catching them indicates we have increased our efforts in that area.”

Inspector Brown said court order breaches include people who break intervention orders or don’t abide by parole conditions.

“It just says we’re still maintaining our focus. We don’t see any breach as minor so we’re prosecuting every one.”

Vandalism and related offences climbed almost 20 per cent, from 1479 to 1770, while crimes against people rose from 467 to 491 (five per cent).

Across Hume, the overall crime rate was up more than 16 per cent.

The new figures come a fortnight after the police union rejected calls for Diggers Rest to be transferred into the Sunbury police service area.

The union claims this would put more pressure on officers already dealing with soaring call-outs.

Sunbury police station already closes on occasions due to a lack of staff, but officers can still be contacted via intercom and phone.

Western Metropolitan Liberal MP Bernie Finn claimed the latest figures were a direct consequence of not having enough police.

But Sunbury MP Josh Bull said an extra 406 police officers would be out on the beat statewide as part of a $596 million state government budget package.

“Since November 2014, the government has funded more than 1150 police personnel, including 300 general duties police, 106 specialist officers and 400 custody officers,” Mr Bull said.

“With police forming special teams of officers – to smash gangs and target violent crime – we can expect to see increases in aggravated burglary and motor vehicle thefts because offenders are getting caught.”

Inspector Brown said Hume had received more police in the last state increase, and while he hoped for more with the coming roll-out, Sunbury continued to be well served. He also said custody officers would free up uniform police.

Overall crime in the Macedon Ranges was up 17 per cent, from 2139 to 2503 total offences.

Assaults rose 25 per cent, from 179 to 225, property damage climbed from 197 to 220 offences, while court procedures went up from 30 to 64 (113 per cent).

Drug use and possession increased slightly, from 147 to 150 offences.