Amy Robertson, Monash Journalism
DRUG offences have risen in the Maroondah and Knox area in 2013 from the previous year, Victoria Police Corporate Statistics found.
The area recorded 371 drug offences in 2013, up by 53.3% from 2012.
Leading Sen-Constable and Maroondah Crime Prevention Officer, Robert King, said police are particularly concerned with an increased use of methamphetamines, specifically ice.
“It appears that ice is a very addictive drug, and people who take ice appear to become fairly violent,” he said.
Alcohol and Drug Service Development Officer at the Salvation Army, Belinda McNair, has noticed an increased use of ice amongst their clients.
““In our withdrawal unit in Geelong, we have seen ice move to the second primary drug of concern,” she said.
“It is addictive and they’re making comparisons to crack cocaine. People become quite violent.”
“It’s an interesting one because it’s a different cohort. It’s actually capturing a lot of students, tradies, hospitality workers.”
Sen-Constable King said the increase in recorded drug offences is most likely due to stronger police presence and enforcement, not an increase in general drug use in the community.
“If we are catching more offenders, then the stats will increase; it’s greater police focus or police presence or whatever it is we’re doing at the time,” he said.
“We tend to vary what we do according to what presents itself to us.”
Knox Crime Prevention Officer, Lee Thomson, agrees, saying a rise in drug offences does not indicate an increase in drug use in the community.
“The harder we work on a problem, the more it looks like we’ve got a problem,” she said.
“We have been working really hard on the drug problem, particularly of ice.”
Maroondah and Knox have also seen an increase in assaults, theft of motor vehicles and non-residential burglaries in 2013, with theft of motor vehicles rising by 34.1% from 2012.
Meanwhile, the area has experienced an 11.3% decrease in residential burglaries and a 20.8% reduction in road injuries from 2012.