Tim McCurdy is scared the North East is suffering from being “too soft on crime”.
Every week there are reports of youths committing some form of property damage, illegal deer hunters are taking advantage of a lack of law enforcement in rural areas and two violent deaths over the past year have the community on edge.
The Ovens Valley MLA said law and order should be top of the government’s agenda.
“Everyone’s concerned about the leniency of judges,” Mr McCurdy said.
“We’re sick of the excuses and it’s time to say we need to be tough on people who offend.”
Public fears were raised when 11-year-old Wangaratta girl Zoe Buttigieg and Whorouly mother-of-two Karen Chetcuti were killed in separate tragic events in October and January.
We’re sick of the excuses and it’s time to say we need to be tough on people who offend.
A bill to amend the Corrections Act, including strengthening control of sex offenders on parole, was passed by the Victorian lower house last week and will move to the upper house for debate.
Mr McCurdy took the opportunity to explain the devastation around Wangaratta.
“That is why we continue to push for law and order to be at the front of the agenda, not lagging behind like it currently is,” he said in parliament.
“Enough is enough and we need to be doing more – we certainly continue to work tirelessly to see that the sex offenders register is in place.”
Speaking to The Border Mail, Mr McCurdy said the Whitfield community was concerned having its single officer on long-term sick leave would lead to more deer-hunting crimes.
Eastern Region Superintendent Paul O’Halloran said the station was still covered by surrounding police.
He said the addition of 16 custody officers in Wangaratta and seven in Wodonga would free up resources to return to front line or specialist policing positions.
Police also relied on partnerships with agencies such as Parks Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Wangaratta’s Criminal Investigation Unit was running with one less detective in recent months, but Superintendent O’Halloran said he was still discussing how to allocate staff across the region.
“We have to be tough on crime and high end offending, but we also have to be intelligent and focused on the priorities we need to to address,” he said.
“We’ve had some really, really good results targeting recidivist offenders.”