Police deny Melton has a gun culture

Melton police have denied the area is turning into a “ghetto” amid they are discovering guns in cars every two days in the north-west metro region.

The Police Association Figures revealed police in the north-west responded to firearm-related incidents, such as drive-by shootings, every six days, and an increasing trend of youths as young as 16 were carrying guns.

But Detective Senior Sergeant Jenks, of the Crime Investigation Unit, reassured the community there wasn’t a “gun culture” in Melton.

“We don’t find a gun every two days here in Melton, not even once a week, wouldn’t even be once a month,” he said.

“We’ve got to remember that north-west metro encompasses Williamstown, out to Melton, out to Sunbury, Craigieburn and Diamond Creek. It even includes parts of Melbourne CBD so it’s a huge area.”

He urged anyone with information about people carrying guns without a licence to call CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

Crime statistics

The latest Crime Statistics Agency figures revealed, in the 12 months to April, weapons and explosive related offences jumped by about 25 per cent to 359.

Detective Senior Sergeant Jenks said many of these offences were more likely to be knife-related, as opposed to gun or explosive related.

“The increase in those numbers relate to the changes around legislation about what knives can be carried in public… and increased police detection,” Detective Senior Sergeant Jenks said.

In 2011, the state government banned anyone under 18 to carry any types of knives, including knives or knives for school or work.

Offenders face a $239 on-the-spot fine, or could face court and be fined more than $1400.

Police are detecting an increasing number of young people carrying knives for “personal protection”.

Detective Senior Sergeant Jenks said there was no reason for anyone to fear their safety on the streets.

“Carrying knives are illegal and it will get [the young people] in trouble,” he said.

“Knives are the types of things that escalate situation; if someone happens to be armed then that’s when things get out of control.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Jenks attributed the 28 per cent rise (395) in drug possession to increased police operations and presence.

“Quite commonly, the people we arrest for property crime, such as thefts and burglaries, are drug users,” he said.

“When we do operations in relation to thefts and burglaries, we’ve always included a drug component [to the operation] as well… The increased detection [of drugs] is also a consequence of targeting other offences.”