All to increase police presence at resorts
BILL Tilley (MLA, Benambra) has called on Police Minister Lisa Neville to undertake a “comprehensive review” of police numbers at alpine ski resorts.
Mr Tilley raised his concerns in Victorian Parliament on August 8 after police from Wangaratta were called to a domestic violence incident at Falls Creek in late July.
But the attending officers were stood down before they could reach the resort as medical staff helped resolve the issue.
Mt Hotham Falls Creek News understands police from Mt Beauty and Bright were unavailable because they were responding to a separate incident at Mt Hotham.
“Last year I called on the minister to give assurances that police would provide a 24/7 presence in the ski resorts,” Mr Tilley said.
“Now this was followed by a backflip earlier in 2016 that thankfully prevented these resorts, and their emergency services, from being left without police throughout the night.
“Fast-forward 12 months and through stealth we find that this has become a reality.”
Victoria Police has assured the alpine communities of a 24-hour police response eventhough officers on the mountain are rostered on eight-hour shifts and are not on-call outside of those times.
Mr Tilley said two successful rescues had been carried out at Falls Creek this season, and it was fortunate no serious incidents resulted after 100 centimetres of snow fell between August 5-6 in the biggest storms this decade.
He wants Victoria’s police policy looked at before a major tragedy occurs.
“In perfect conditions, and those that are familiar with the region know, it is about a two-hour drive away (from Wangaratta) and during winter, at night and with icy mountain roads it is much longer,” he said.
“I cannot imagine another town in Victoria with 5000 beds and 42 licensed premises that covers a village about 2.5 hectares that would tolerate the situation where the nearest police are more than two hours away, or when the road is cut, completely isolated from police.
“I do not want the situation where a tragedy is the catalyst to reviewing this out-of-touch policy.”
Police Minister Lisa Neville told Parliament she was under the impression any police coverage concerns had been resolved ahead of the season.
“I know that the chief commissioner has been up there again in some parts looking at the alpine policing model just over this winter period,” she said.
“I have inquired about the Falls Creek matter and have been assured by the chief commissioner’s office that there in fact was greater coverage.
“It was the same model as 2016 but with greater coverage.”
Ms Neville was expected to meet with chief commissioner’s office and Mr Tilley to look at the current model this week.