Inquiry may revisit Ballarat after release of new crime statistics 

BALLARAT might get another visit from the State Parliament methamphetamine inquiry, after latest crime statistics showed a 73.6 per cent rise in drug-related offences.

The inquiry has been crisscrossing the state over the past few months conducting public hearings into the supply and use of the drug ice. 

Warrnambool was slated to be the last regional city to be visited by the inquiry today, however, the chairman and Western Victoria MP Simon Ramsay said Ballarat could get another say.

Mr Ramsay said during a recent visit to Ballarat he was told by community safety groups and police about an escalation in the use, manufacture and trafficking of methamphetamine.

The inquiry sat in Ballarat in November and heard from community groups, health workers and users about the devastating toll the drug has taken.

“We’ve covered regional Victoria as extensively as we can. We’ve heard from 162 witnesses and had around 45 written submissions,” Mr Ramsay said.

“There is a lot of work that has been done. We might revisit Ballarat if necessary.”

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After the visit to Warrnambool is completed there will be further hearings in Melbourne before the inquiry then prepares its written report to be presented to parliament in August.

If required, the inquiry may backtrack to Ballarat or ask police to provide more information to the inquiry about the issue. 

Mr Ramsay said there had been several issues raised during the inquiry, including law enforcement as well as harm minimisation. 

“There’s no doubt that the use of methamphetamine, particularly ice, is increasing at quite an alarming rate, particularly in regional areas and in indigenous populations,” he said.

Ballarat police Inspector Bruce Thomas last week said the jump in drug crime was related to the use of ice. 

“Ice is our issue, at the moment we are picking up a lot more people with it,” he said. 

“It is a police problem, it is a health problem and it is a community problem.”

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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