The number of people caught cultivating and manufacturing drugs in Greater Shepparton jumped 142 per cent this year, fresh figures from Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency has revealed.
From the middle of July last year until the end of June this year, 46 people were found to be cultivating and manufacturing drugs — compared with 19 in the previous period.
Greater Shepparton police Inspector Haydn Downes put the figure down to good work from Shepparton police’s Divisional Tasking Unit.
‘‘The huge increase (can be put down to) the amount of offenders processed by the unit... who have captured a lot of people dealing and growing drugs,’’ he said.
‘‘That’s why it’s gone up... we think it’s good work... that an investigation has lead to an arrest.’’
Insp Downes said members of the public who provided police with information helped bust a number of crop houses in the region.
‘‘We’ve found a lot of crop houses over the last 12 months... so continue to ring Crime Stoppers because the information will come through to us,’’ he said.
In Shepparton more specifically, weapons and explosives offences skyrocketed more than 60per cent, along with public nuisance offences, which grew 32.1 per cent.
‘‘A weapon could be as simple as a pocket knife or a person in a car with a baseball bat... it’s a myriad of stuff,’’ Insp Downes said.
‘‘This goes to show we’re out doing the work and thoroughly checking people.
‘‘Public nuisance offences rising is also good work by police because they’re all detected offences... we’re putting more patrols out on Friday and Saturday nights and people are getting pinged.’’
Greater Shepparton remains fourth on the list of Local Government Areas across the state, with one of the highest offence rates per resident population.
Across Victoria, the overall crime rate has fallen for the first time in six years and Police Minister Lisa Neville said the results showed the government was heading in the right direction.
‘‘Because of the relentless effort by our police, combined with new resources and combined with new capabilities... we now see the crime rate heading in the direction,’’ Ms Neville said.
State Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan reiterated the call for Premier Daniel Andrews to adopt a tougher mandatory sentencing policy.