According to the latest crime statistics released by Victoria Police, the overall number of crimes has risen by around 1.2 percent state wide, with big increases in drug-related crimes in some localities.
Both Warrnambool and Ballarat have recorded particularly worrying increases in drug offences with figures of 55% for Warrnambool and 70% for Ballarat, based on figures for the 12 months to December 2013 compared to the previous 12 months. No other crimes in those two communities have recorded such steep increases, although motor vehicle thefts, crimes of violence and deception offences have all shown increases, while break-ins and robberies have declined.
Victoria police officials have reported that the main focus of their drive against drug offences is towards the trafficking and use of methamphetamine, which is colloquially known as “ice” or “crystal meth”.
The police in both regions have said that low level trafficking of ice, typically for personal consumption is the main problem in the two regions. Inspector Bruce Thompson of the Ballarat Police says that the use of methamphetamines is also often linked to other crimes, particularly crimes of violence, robbery and theft.
The police say that there is a limit to what they can do without significant contribution from the community in terms of reporting crimes and providing information which might lead to an arrest. Spokesman for the Victoria Police in Warrnambool and the nearby communities of Moyne and Corangamite, Inspector Kevin Archer, said that at the end of the day the police may be the ones that wore the uniforms but they still relied on the wider community for help.
Drug-related offences cover a wide number of crimes, ranging from possession through to trafficking, aiding and abetting,
manufacturing and having the means to manufacture a particular drug. The Drug, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 covers these sorts of offences and prescribes penalties imposed on anyone who is convicted of a drug offence in the state.
Methamphetamine is considered a controlled drug on Schedule 11 of the Act, which includes other mind altering drugs in use in the community such as cocaine, cannabis, heroin, LSD and psilocybin. In the case of both possession and trafficking, the Act prescribes the quantities that may be considered offences if they are found by police on a particular individual.
Penalties imposed for possession of a controlled substance depend on the type of substance and the quantity found in possession. The penalties for cannabis possession are significantly lower than those for any other substance on Schedule 11, including methamphetamine, the focus of Police concern in the two regions mentioned in this article. Anyone who is charged with the use of methamphetamine, or attempts to use it, contravenes section 75 of the Act and could be fined a maximum of 30 penalty units or face a maximum of 1 year in prison or both. In Victoria, 30 penalty units are equivalent to a fine of around $3,400.
Considering the serious nature of any drug-related charges, and the life changing potential if you are convicted of a drug offence in Victoria, you are strongly recommended to contact one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers who have great experience in defending drug-related charges.
If you have been charged with a driving offence and need advice or representation, please call us our experienced driving lawyers.