All to in­crease po­lice pres­ence at re­sorts

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE - By USTI E EY

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.

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