By Luke Voogt
More than 20 new officers have hit the beat across Geelong, the Surf Coast and Colac since July, Victoria Police has announced.
The announcement comes a fortnight after the Independent revealed increases in burglaries had driven 7.8 and 11.9 per cent crime rises in Geelong and the Surf Coast respectively in 2019-20.
The new officers commenced as part of the biggest investment in regional policing in Victoria Police’s 167-year history, the organisation said.
In March state government announced Geelong and the Surf Coast would receive 63 additional police over 12 months – the “most significant” amount provided to the region in one allotment.
Eight frontline constables have commenced at stations across Bellarine, Torquay, Colac and Winchelsea since then, while a new sergeant has also commenced at Portarlington and will lead a team of eight permanent police members.
A further 17 officers are set to commence by April 2021 across Corio, Lara, Portarlington, Torquay, Waurn Ponds and Colac, according to Victoria Police.
Another 13 shared divisional officers are already embedded within the local community, including family violence detectives, sex offences and child abuse detectives, criminal investigators and highway patrol members, according to Victoria Police.
Another 24 specialised shared members will commence by April 2021.
Geelong Superintendent Craig Gillard said the new officers had already provided a substantial boost to local policing.
“The new members we have been allocated have allowed us to further enhance our response across several key areas.
“We used these new resources to establish the Geelong Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Proactive Investigation Team, which proactively targets some of our region’s most heinous offenders and puts them behind bars as soon as possible.”
Geelong police had also boosted their number of family violence detectives, who would continue to check on “high-risk future victims or perpetrators of family violence”, Superintendent Gillard said.
During 2020-21 Geelong will receive a total of 21 general services police while the Surf Coast will receive five.
The division will share 37 new police officers including eight Highway Patrol officers, 10 Crime Investigation Unit detectives, nine sexual offence and child abuse detectives, eight family violence detectives and two crime scene services officers.