ONE of Australia’s leading social campaigners has warned Wangaratta is at risk of becoming “meth town”.
Les Twentyman contacted the Wangaratta Chronicle after the release of crime statistics that showed a spike in drug related crime in Wangaratta.
Mr Twentyman has been a frontline youth worker and social justice advocate for the best part of 40 years and said he had never seen the drug problem as bad as it currently is in regional Victoria.
The police statistics show some 738 drug trafficking charges were laid in the Wangaratta Police Service Area in 2014, up from 219 the previous year.
Those statistics shoved the Wangaratta local government area up into the fifth position in the state for crime rate per capita.
Police have put the figures down to Operation Juliet, which resulted in the arrests of more than 30 people in September last year.
Many of those people have now been charged with drug trafficking that is alleged to have involved the sale of $392,000 worth of methamphetamines.
Mr Twentyman said more needed to be done to combat methamphetines, or “ice”.
He has travelled to the United States and seen first hand the effects of the US equivalent of ice, “crank”, on regional and urban areas.
“What our communities need is support in regards to program they can conduct locally, youth workers on the streets and in every school across the state, to try and combat the issue directly,” he said.
“A failure to act will result in a US style experience of ‘town wipeouts’ or ‘meth towns’, which has seen literally a generation of users wiped out through drug addiction.”