By Samantha Walker
Hume is the number one municipality in the state for arson, weapons and explosives, and stalking offences, according to newly released Crime Statistics Agency figures.
There were 217 crimes involving arson in Hume in the 12 months to September 30 last year, 860 weapons and explosives offences, and 632 offences involving stalking, harassment or threatening behaviour.
The number of arson cases in Hume in the same year was 30 per cent higher than the second-closest contender, Greater Geelong, which had 165 offences.
Broadmeadows police’s Acting Inspector Geraldine Porter said the high rate of arson could be partly explained by Hume being a high fire-risk area, with major roads passing through leafy suburbs such as Sunbury.
“Fires might be started from discarded cigarettes from cars, but then you’ll get the ones that will be intentionally lit,” Acting Inspector Porter said.
Weapons and explosives crimes have almost tripled over the past four years, climbing from 317 in 2011. Most weapons and explosives offences in the year to September 30, 2015 involved people possessing prohibited or controlled weapons. Prohibited weapons include swords, knuckle-dusters and capsicum spray, while controlled weapons include items such as kitchen knives and machetes.
There were also 69 cases where people with no gun licence, or those prohibited from holding one, were found in possession of a firearm.
Offences involving stalking, harassment or threatening behaviour surged in Hume over four years, with the most recent annual figures showing an 80 per cent jump on the 354 offences in 2011.
Across the state, crime was up six per cent on the year before. In Hume, drug use and possession crimes have almost doubled since 2014: up to 942 offences from 512.