DRUG crimes in Ballarat escalated sharply over the 2014-2015 year to 577 offences from 440 the year before.
Figures recently released by The Crime Statistics Agency showed the spike, which had climbed from 311 in the 2012-2013 year and 224 in the 2011-2012 year.
The jump between the 2012-2013 to 2013-2014 figures also raised community alarm when the figures were released in August last year.
Drug offences included dealing and trafficking, of which there were 95 incidents in 2014-2015, cultivating and manufacturing: 36, use and possession: 445, and other drug crimes: 1.
Ballarat drug and alcohol counsellor Stu Fenton said he believed ice use was increasing but alcohol and other drug use remained stable.
He put the increase in drug crimes in Ballarat down to the younger demographic using methamphetamine and their inexperience in criminal activity leading to more offences recorded.
“We get people that without the drugs are pretty nice kids - go to university, get jobs, all that kind of stuff - but once they’re on drugs and especially ice, it makes people a lot more confident but less aware of what they’re doing,” Mr Fenton said.
“It is about being more overly confident but not having the skills to be good criminals so they tend to get caught a lot.”
Mr Fenton said ice was easy to get in Ballarat, and dealers were on the increase.
“I use to be a user a few years ago and once you get a dealer it’s pretty easy. If they haven’t got any, there’s usually someone who does,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to a few drug dealers in the past year and they all talk quite openly about bringing ice in and the pushers and gangs that are behind it all. It sounds pretty huge.”
Mr Fenton, who currently counsels patients privately in Ballarat but hopes to open a dedicated rehab centre in the city soon, said he believed the solution was in parent education rather than throwing money at policing and drug-testing.
“My opinion is that we need to focus on parenting. I believe if we started to focus on that, the unfolding of that 20 years down the track would be a decreased need to use drugs and then a reduced level of crime.”
In May this year, Crime Stoppers announced its Dob in a Dealer campaign in Ballarat resulted in a 325 per cent increase in community information reports about possible methamphetamine activity within two weeks of the project launch.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.