DRUG crime in our town dropped a massive 75 per cent for the year ended March 2017.
New figures released by the Crime Statistics Agency paint an improved picture for Heathcote with total crime down by more than 30 per cent.
Crimes against the person dropped 26.7 per cent.
Referring to a broad array of criminal offences such as homicide, rape, battery and assault, there were 33 total cases of crimes against the person recorded, down from the previous year’s total of 45.
The only significant increase for our town was breaches of orders, with 31 offences compared to 12 at the same time last year.
The figures weren’t as kind to Axedale, with total crime increasing by almost 30 per cent.
There were 40 deception offences compared to 15 the same time last year and breaches of orders almost doubled.
Heathcote police Acting Sergeant Dan O’Bree said the statistics can be misleading, but the drop in Heathcote crime was a reflection of the hard work by local police and the Heathcote community.
“The community is fantastic when it comes to helping out,” he said.
“We encourage them to continue reporting things to us when they feel something is not right.
“Some of the statistics can be exaggerated. Large fluctuations in the statistics can be due to a small increase or decrease in the actual number of incidents.”
Heathcote Tourism and Development president Peter Maine said low crime rates play a major part in the ability of his group to attract people to the region.
“Four and a half years ago when I came to Heathcote to live and operate a business, I did research on the crime rate and that was one of the influencing factors in making that decision,” he said.
“I know a large number of new arrivals to the town have done the same thing and come to the same conclusion.
“You can’t discount the level and effectiveness of the policing in the region, which plays a big part in the reductions and overall result.
“I think the fall in drug crime and property offences are linked and are a direct indicator of the effectiveness of policing.”
The statistics didn’t paint as rosy a picture for Mitchell Shire, with a steep increase in theft and drug offences.
Theft increased 14.4 per cent, drug dealing and trafficking increased 55 per cent and drug use and possession increased 29.4 per cent.
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews must take immediate action to fix the wave of theft, burglaries and break-ins across the region.
“Our community has been abandoned by the Premier for Melbourne while the crime rate spirals out of control,” she said.
“Offenders have been emboldened by the Victorian Government’s watered-down bail laws and weakened sentencing.”