Blame game erupts over our po­lice staffing lev­els

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS -

RICH­MOND MP Jus­tine El­liot has called on Tweed Na­tion­als MP Geoff Provest to apol­o­gise to po­lice, claim­ing he blamed of­fi­cers for caus­ing the dire staff short­age in the lo­cal area command.

The Tweed Daily News this week re­vealed po­lice were at “break­ing point”, vot­ing to be­gin in­dus­trial ac­tion and a pe­ti­tion, call­ing for more staff to be as­signed to the Tweed By­ron Lo­cal Area Command.

Their ac­tion came just days be­fore the open­ing of the command’s new head­quar­ters in Wharf St.

But Mrs El­liot, her­self a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, said it was un­fair of Mr Provest to blame the staff crisis on of­fi­cers who had taken stress and sick leave.

“Geoff Provest un­fairly claims the crisis is due to the num­ber of po­lice on long term sick leave. That is to­tal rub­bish,” Mrs El­liot said.

“The po­lice put their lives on the line every day and go into sit­u­a­tions where oth­ers would never go.

“This is un­true and un­fair; the cur­rent crisis is due solely to Geoff Provest’s con­tin­ued in­com­pe­tence and fail­ure to de­liver more po­lice. It is in­sult­ing that Geoff Provest blames the hard-work­ing men and women who work tire­lessly as po­lice and have suf­fered in­jury while safe­guard­ing the res­i­dents of NSW.”

But Mr Provest dis­missed the com­ments as “cheap po­lit­i­cal point scor­ing”.

“I think Mrs El­liot is mis­guided in this, I don’t think she is look­ing at the re­al­ity of the facts,” Mr Provest said.

“We have got 20% of our po­lice on long-term sick, that is one in five, it is a cul­tural is­sue. It is not a case of just throw­ing more num­bers at the command. Jus­tine is just cheap po­lit­i­cal point scor­ing. The re­al­ity is that we have an is­sue here and just throw­ing ex­tra num­bers at it doesn’t help. We need to ad­dress it. I think it needs a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the union, the po­lice de­part­ment and the gov­ern­ment.”

Mr Provest said the high level of sick­ness was unique to the Tweed. “It’s not oc­cur­ring in the Syd­ney LACS or Wol­lon­gong or New­cas­tle, it is a cul­tural thing,” he said.

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