‘No guar­an­tees’ on sta­tion staff

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - PA­TRICK GEE

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Michael Fer­gu­son has re­vealed there are no guar­an­tees New Nor­folk’s new $5 mil­lion po­lice sta­tion will be staffed around the clock.

The lack of com­mit­ment came to light in House of Assem­bly Bud­get es­ti­mates ques­tion­ing.

Re­spond­ing to a line of ques­tion­ing from Greens MP Ros­alie Woodruff, Mr Fer­gu­son said there had been no sug­ges­tion the sta­tion would be staffed around the clock.

“The com­mit­ment that the Gov­ern­ment has made in re­la­tion to New Nor­folk … is that there would be ac­cess to po­lice ser­vices at all times,” he said.

New Nor­folk is cur­rently ser­viced by the 24-hour po­lice sta­tion at Bridgewater.

“It is con­sid­ered by our se­nior po­lice … that it is bet­ter for po­lice to be in the com­mu­nity pa­trolling and be­ing avail­able and able to re­spond to call-ins, than sit­ting be­hind a desk.”

The Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted to pro­vide New Nor­folk with a new $5 mil­lion po­lice sta­tion and an all-hours po­lice pres­ence in the lead-up to the March 3 state elec­tion.

“A re-elected ma­jor­ity Hodg­man Lib­eral Gov­ern­ment will rec­tify this by in­vest­ing $5 mil­lion on the new sta­tion, en­sur­ing it has the ca­pac­ity, space and se­cu­rity re­quire­ments to re­spond to the com­mu­nity’s needs around-the-clock, seven days a week,” for­mer po­lice min­is­ter Rene Hid­ding said in Jan­uary.

The prom­ise pre­ceded La­bor’s $4 mil­lion com­mit­ment to re­fur­bish the cur­rent New Nor­folk sta­tion and pro­vide around- the- clock polic­ing.

Both com­mit­ments were made in re­sponse to pub­lic pres­sure after a spike in crime.

Mr Fer­gu­son said the Gov­ern­ment pro­vided fund­ing for a ca­pa­bil­ity re­view to help de­cide the “best al­lo­ca­tion” of the state’s ex­tra 125 po­lice force staff funded in the 2018-19 Bud­get.

“The ca­pa­bil­ity re­view is … so the com­mis­sioner can have ac­cess to all of the in­for­ma­tion re­quired to make de­ci­sions about where staffing re­sources are go­ing to be placed to max­imise pub­lic ac­cess and pub­lic safety.”

Mr Fer­gu­son said all of the $5 mil­lion al­lo­cated for the new po­lice sta­tion at New Nor­folk was for in­fras­truc­ture.

“I think the peo­ple of New Nor­folk would have had an ex­pec­ta­tion that a $5 mil­lion new po­lice sta­tion would come with a per­son be­hind the counter at least Mon­day to Fri­day,” Dr Woodruff said.

“I un­der­stand … they are go­ing to have to wait un­til the re­sults of a ca­pa­bil­ity re­view to get a def­i­nite as­sur­ance that will be the case.”

Dr Woodruff said the Gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties were wrong.

“The New Nor­folk com­mu­nity wants a ser­vice based in the sta­tion around-the­clock,” she said.

“And they want to be able to walk into the sta­tion and talk to a per­son with­out making a series of phone calls.

“The com­mu­nity be­lieved they were promised 24 hour lo­cal ac­cess be­fore the elec­tion. That should be the pri­or­ity.”

Mr Fer­gu­son said there was no sug­ges­tion the 10 staff cur­rently sta­tioned in New Nor­folk would not stay in the town.

Com­ment was sought from Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Darren Hine.

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