Parliament Police Don't cut country coppers

Euroa Electorate Police

11 June 2015

June 11, 2015

MS RYAN (Euroa) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Police. The action I seek is that he provide additional resources to ensure that police stations across the Euroa electorate can meet recent operational changes made by Victoria Police.

The policy requiring police to work two up as a result of concerns about terrorism has stretched resources across my electorate. I have been contacted by constituents who have noticed a reduction in the level of policing in our communities since the rule was applied. Police officers have told me that the changes are unworkable and have said that the needs of country communities have not been considered. Victoria Police has since acknowledged that the requirements do not appreciate the nature of country policing, and that has been a relief to many. The minister's guarantee that no station will close is also very welcome, and it is one to which I will certainly hold him.

These operational changes have served to put a spotlight on Labor's failure to properly resource our police force. A lack of police numbers meant that one-member police stations were forced to dramatically scale back their hours, even locking their doors, when this policy was implemented. There are four one-member police stations in the Euroa electorate — at Pyalong, Stanhope, Murchison and Violet Town — and each plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of those communities. A number of other one-member stations are located just outside of my electorate but do service it, including Glenrowan, Elmore, Lancefield and Dookie. Officers from these stations were also required to work in other communities in situations where medium-sized stations could not meet requirements. This issue is not just about one-member stations. My constituents also have concerns about larger stations where six or eight police officers might be working on a roster.

The requirement to work two up has left police units stretched and communities exposed. Victoria Police has an obligation to provide the safest workplace it can for its officers, and I wholeheartedly support that endeavour. Equally, however, it is the government's obligation to ensure that the force is resourced to do its job. During the coalition's four years in government 1900 additional police officers were put on the beat. Daniel Andrews has made provision for just 15 new police officers, with all 15 of them to be stationed on the Bellarine Peninsula. Labor's failure to adequately invest in employing new police officers means that country communities are exposed each time operational changes are made. The government's failure to keep pace with population growth risks police being pulled out of country areas to plug other gaps.

In country communities our police officers are much more than just law enforcers; they are part of the community. The government must invest in putting more police on the beat to meet these operational changes and keep pace with population growth. I urge the minister to properly resource the force, and I ask that he does not cut country coppers.

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