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    LEADERS: From left, Division Acting Assistant Commissioner Sharon McKinnon, Acting Inspector Elissa Smith, Superintendent Sharon McCrory, Inspector Caroline Johnson, Inspector Di Thomson and Inspector Jo Janes make up the biggest proportion of women police leaders in the state. Picture: BRONWYN HASTINGS
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    David Ellis.
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    Brendan Broadbent.

Forum uniting Wimmera police and communities

By Bronwyn Hastings

A police forum in Horsham last week brought an opportunity for residents to discuss topical issues and statistics.

Panel member and Horsham Superintendent Sharon McCrory said the division four neighbourhood policing forums were a chance for community members to interact with local police.

Police also hosted a forum in Ararat on Thursday.

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“It’s also an opportunity to hear from police about what we are doing in our division, but it’s more about hearing from you – what’s impacting you, what’s worrying you, what you’re concerned about,” she said.

A community sentiment survey conducted in Horsham last year raised concerns of drugs and alcohol, road safety, safety of personal property and possessions, family violence, safety in public places, serious and organised crime, and cybercrime and online safety.

Expert police officers in the areas of demographics and youth, crime, road safety, family violence, and alcohol and drugs joined the forum at Harvest Church Horsham.

Young people

Acting Sergeant Owen Lyons spoke about working with young people, outlining the proactive approach of police in schools.

“We give presentations in schools from foundation to year-12, from an introduction to police as people that can help, to cyberbullying, body safety and bike safety,” Acting Sgt Lyons said.

“We focus on support services and educational programs so children can identify if they’re going in the wrong direction. 

“We work with schools and the community to support children.”

Across the forum, police highlighted the collaborative approach needed to work effectively in the community. 

Family violence

Senior Sergeant Simone Field highlighted the information-sharing scheme between agencies, such as The Orange Door, kindergartens and schools. 

“Information sharing gives us further avenues of investigation,” she said.

“It will see data and charges increase, but that’s a positive to me.”

Sen Sgt Field said changes in policy and questions children are asked directly will assist in decreasing the incidence of family violence.

On average, police attend 10 incidents a month where a child has been nominated as the respondent of family violence. 

“Half of all violent acts have children present,” Sen Sgt Field said.

“We are trying to break the cycle.”

Acting Sgt Lyons said police work to intervene before matters get serious.

“Every child and situation is different and outcomes depend on a child’s environment, external agencies and early intervention. We use a therapeutic approach to give children the tools they need,” he said.

Crime trends 

Division Four’s crime trends saw a rise in thefts, but a drop in deceptions, such as online fraud. 

Members of the public gallery highlighted stock theft as a concern, which Detective Senior Sergeant David Ellis said was difficult to investigate.

“There were 10 reported instances of stock theft last year, but it’s likely under-reported,” he said.

“I’m not aware of anyone that has been processed locally.

“It is a strong focus, police are frequently at saleyards as a proactive approach. 

“There is movement across the division to monitor this, particularly in highway patrol.”

Regional teams work across the divisions to try to track stock, and some people have been held to account.

Thefts from supermarkets and service stations have risen.

“Anecdotally, we have found the cost-of-living has influenced the nature of thefts, such as fuel from service stations and food from supermarkets,” Sen Sgt Ellis said.

The most prevalent age groups of offenders being processed for theft is 20 to 30 years, followed by the 30 to 40-year age group. 


Cannabis remained the highest of the top three drug types related to offences last year, followed by methylamphetamine and prescription drugs. 

Forty-two percent of all drug detections in division four were cannabis, with methylamphetamine at 17 percent. Fifty-three offenders were processed and there were 21 instances of trafficking.

Horsham is above the state offence rate per 100,000 population. 

Road policing

Senior Sergeant Brendan Broadbent presented road policing statistics.

Twenty-seven people died in road accidents across the division last year. 

Nine of those were aged 60 and older, with eight aged 40 to 59 years. 

Nine were car drivers and eight were motorcyclists. 

“Major risks in our area are long stretches of highway, a fatigue zone and intersections of highways and the railway line,” Sen Sgt Broadbent said.

“We have strategies under government, Victoria Police and division four, to engage, enhance and enforce. 

“We have systems of safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads and safe driving, then we look at our area and demographic – all this dictates what we need to do,” he said.

Sen Sgt Broadbent said police were strategic n their plan to make roads safer.

“Enforcement modifies driver behaviour,” he said.

“One kilometre slower means a five percent reduction in road trauma, which is 15 lives saved. One life lost is too many – we can have a zero road toll.”

Question time

Residents and representatives from community agencies raised discussions of driver reviver stations, access to police, unmanned stations in isolated areas, standards for safety and security in public places, elder abuse, near misses at roundabouts and youth roaming the streets at night.

Traffic and fast-moving gophers, trucks on the highway at McPherson Street, and the accessibility of police were issues actioned on the day.

Neighbourhood policing forums will be held in each division annually. 

The entire April 24, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire April, 24, 2024 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!