Ararat is now considered the fourth highest offending local government municipality in Victoria, disturbing new crime statistics revealed.
The latest Crime Statistics Agency figures showed a total of 1,488 offences in the region for the year ending March 31, 2017, up from 1,349 the year before.
Ararat trailed Melbourne, Latrobe and Yarra in the highest offending local government areas and recorded the biggest increase in offence rate per 100,000 estimated population, 11.6 per cent.
Upward trends in the region included public nuisance offences (up 90 per cent), sexual offences (up 20 per cent), assaults (up 17.5 per cent) and property damage (up 12.6 per cent).
Ripon MP Louise Staley said Ararat residents were under siege from a surging crime wave.
“Total crime is up in Ararat and residents are being traumatised,” she said.
“We need to boost police resources and crack down hard on offenders.”
Acting Inspector Paul Bertoncello said police would carefully examine the factors contributing to rises in particular crimes and in specific areas.
“We are aware of the rise of certain crimes in some areas of the police service area and a rise in non-family violence assaults in others,” he said.
“We continuously review our approach to crime during the year and we’re working hard to ensure community safety through the prevention of offences.”
But Acting Inspector Bertoncello said a significant 86 per cent increase in drug crime detection was a positive to take away from Ararat’s latest crime figures.
“Illicit drugs are a scourge on local communities and drive many other crime themes including family violence, assaults, and burglaries – not to mention the danger caused when combined with driving,” he said.
“Drug crime only appears in our statistics when we are out there looking for it, so it is a measure of how well our members are doing their job.”