Can’t cop one . . .
Murchison people have voiced their concern that the town has received limited police coverage since Victoria Police introduced new safety measures for officers last month.
Murchison is one of 105 police stations across Victoria with a single officer.
Single police officer stations are common across the Goulburn Valley, with other towns such as Dookie, Violet Town, Rushworth, Stanhope, Tongala and Tungamah also having one police officer.
Caledonian Hotel owner Garth Thompson said policing at Murchison had changed since Victoria Police introduced the new safety measures to protect officers.
‘‘We don’t have a police presence over night time,’’ he said.
‘‘You need that presence to stop people getting any ideas.’’
Mr Thompson said before the safety measures came in, he felt comfortable calling on the local police officer to do a walk through of his hotel if he noticed any ‘‘shady’’ night time customers.
‘‘It eliminates any problems if you have the local bloke around,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re pretty lucky here, we don’t have much trouble, but every now and then you get an outsider coming in.’’
Mr Thompson is not alone in thinking there needs to be a stronger police presence at night time.
‘‘I do believe the whole community is disappointed,’’ Murchison Bakery and Tea Rooms owner Janene Burt said.
Ms Burt said the situation was concerning because if there was a crime overnight, back-up aid had to come from Shepparton or Tatura.
‘‘It’s really quite overwhelming that as a small town we’re quite at risk, along with other small towns,’’ she said.
‘‘(But) we’re pretty lucky, I believe we don’t have a lot of crime in Murchison.’’
Ms Burt said it was important the town’s police officer remained safe, but if back-up was delayed or did not come for an emergency, then everyone was at risk.
Murchison Super Value Centre owner Glenys Pearson said police safety had to be a priority.
‘‘We would certainly like to have better coverage, but with budget cuts and restrictions, that’s not always possible,’’ she said.
Ms Pearson said it was not unexpected that a small town such as Murchison would only have one police officer, but that officer’s presence was needed.
‘‘You certainly need a bigger police presence in summer when there’s more people around in general,’’ she said.
Victoria Police spokeswoman Lisa Beechey said the measures were in place to ensure the safety of police officers while they worked to keep the community safe.
‘‘The new policy states that police must not perform primary response duties, such as intercepting vehicles, conducting field contacts with suspects, or reception duties in a police facility on their own,’’ she said.
‘‘However, police members who are attached to a one member or non-24 hour police station who conduct a risk assessment with their supervisors may be exempt from these rules.
‘‘At Murchison, members are permitted to work ‘one-up’ with appropriate risk assessments, which has always been the case.’’
This means the Murchison police officer can work alone at night provided a second police officer is available for back-up if the risk assessment determines the need for it.
Ms Beechey said Murchison continued to have a 24-hour police response and the safety measure would remain in place.
‘‘The new policy has not resulted in ‘less policing’ in the community, and the local community should be assured that our commitment to keeping the community safe remains as strong as ever,’’ she said.
Concerned: Bert Kearney, Sue O'Mahoney, Janene Burt and Garth Thompson. Julie Mercer