Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Construction of Morwell’s new police forensic hub is underway as the Andrews Labor Government continues its fight against the devastating drug ice and other high-harm crime in regional Victoria.

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing visited Morwell to turn the first sod and mark the start of construction of the new facility, which will speed up forensic testing and help police investigate crime faster in the Latrobe Valley region.

The hub is expected to open in April next year with 12 new staff, including 11 specially trained forensic officers and one VPS member, to be based on-site.

Advances in forensic technology mean important scientific work will be completed closer to frontline police units, helping get evidence back to police and prosecutors in the region even faster.

This will help avoid the delay that results from thousands of crime scene exhibits being transported to Melbourne for examination in a central laboratory.

Critically, it will help strengthen investigations into crimes that cause the most community harm, focusing on the impact of drugs like ice, family violence, organised crime and property offences.

The new Morwell-based staff will recover evidence and conduct preliminary analyses across a range of forensic areas, including biological, chemical, digital, botanical, and fingerprint services.

More immediate access to preliminary results will assist investigators in detecting and apprehending criminals before they can commit more offences.

The new facility is located at 7 Saskia Way, Morwell, and is supporting local jobs during construction including 30 full-time positions, three apprentices and two trainees.

Morwell is one of two regional centres to receive a forensic hub as part of the Labor Government’s $11.6 million investment in regional forensics, with the other facility to be located in Ballarat.

The additional resources are already making a difference in our community, with the crime rate in Latrobe already starting to fall, with a drop of 0.7 per cent in the last year. Importantly, we know family violence continues to be one of the most significant contributors of violence against the person in our community.

That’s why the Labor Government funded Victoria Police to undertake the biggest recruitment drive in its history, with 3,135 rolling out by 2021, including 415 new family violence police to prevent crime and identify risk early to protect Victorian families – 12 new of these specialist officers are already allocated to the Morwell Division.

This stands in stark contrast to the former Liberal Government, who failed to invest in one single additional officer, cut $100 million from the Victoria Police budget and slashed 350 Victoria Police staff.

Quotes attributable to Member of Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing

“Forensic analysis is a key part of modern policing – providing the intelligence and evidence to investigate and put away criminals, including drug dealers and organised crime figures.”

“The new forensic hub in Morwell will reduce the delays associated with sending evidence away for analysis and boost employment opportunities in the Latrobe Valley.”

“This facility will equip our police with state-of-the-art technology, removing the need for officers to travel to Melbourne to get the evidence they need to crack down on crime in regional Victoria.”