A ‘please explain’ for the Police Minister

Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Member for Orange Philip Donato. Photo: supplied.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Member for Orange Philip Donato. Photo: supplied.

There are calls for the Police Minister to clear up the uncertainty surrounding the shake-up of rural Police resources.

Mudgee Police Station is expected to be part of the amalgamation of at least four local police commands into two Local Area Commands (LAC), as part of the government policing overhaul.

It’s believed the Mudgee LAC will merge with the Orana LAC, based in Dubbo, as part of the restructure. The Orana LAC currently encompasses nine areas from Wellington, Narromine to Gilgandra. 

NSW Police Minister and Member for Dubbo Troy Grant released a statement explaining the intention of re-engineering is to ensure the NSW Police Force is best placed to protect the community into the future.

Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Member for Orange Philip Donato today fired-back at Mr Grant for the uncertainty.

NSW Deputy Commissioner for regional field operations Gary Worboys, NSW police minister Troy Grant and western region commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie in Dubbo. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

NSW Deputy Commissioner for regional field operations Gary Worboys, NSW police minister Troy Grant and western region commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie in Dubbo. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

“Rural Police and Police Stations are vital – and as a former Police Officer myself, I don’t see how the uncertainty created over staffing is any help to the community,” Mr Donato said.

“This restructure of middle management, Inspectors, Superintendents, and unsworn officers is nothing more than an attempt at a forced amalgamation of Police Local Area Commands. It didn’t work for Local Councils, so why is it going to work for Police?,” he said. 

"Gundagai's forced Council amalgamation is costing the community more now than before the amalgamation. I fear the same will happen with this merger.

“This was attempted in Western Australia and it simply did not work. The Government ended up spending more money in the long run than they were saving, and Police numbers were cut.

“What concerns me is that this plan affects the support staff that frontline Police Officer rely on. These are the people that allow Police to be Police.

“Police Inspectors, Superintendents, and unsworn officers provide decades of experience, knowledge and support to the Police Officers working under them.

Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Member for Orange Philip Donato. Photo: supplied

Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Member for Orange Philip Donato. Photo: supplied

“Any cuts to support staff at rural Police Stations is effectively a cut to frontline Police because the work they do will be passed from one group to another.

Mr Grant has rejected claims police numbers will be cut stating, “it is in no way about cutting officer numbers. I’ve made it very clear there will be no reduction in frontline policing.” 

But Mr Donato is calling on Mr Grant to guarantee that there will be no cuts to frontline Police Officers, middle management, Inspectors, Superintendents, and unsworn officers under his proposed Police LAC mergers.

“I oppose any job cuts in rural areas, and that’s what this Police LAC merger is,” Mr Donato said.

The Mudgee Guardian requested comment from newly appointed Deputy Commissioner for Regional Field Operations, Gary Worboys, to clarify the amalgamation and possible reduction of operational hours at the Mudgee Police Station.

A NSW Police spokesperson explained ‘nothing has been finalised’.

“We are looking at where consolidations and realignment across the organisation can create greater efficiencies. Some areas will see a redistribution and streamlining of ranks which will see less management positions and more police on the frontline.” 

“We are creating a fluid police force that will consistently change,” the spokesperson said.

The ‘re-engineering’ of the NSW Police Force was initiated with the appointment of Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys in May this year.

Mr Worboys, who is now based in Dubbo, confirmed at the time that ‘new enforcement squads will be deployed to police regional areas’ and they will ‘work out of hubs’.

“The enforcement squads are really around prevention and disruption which then will hopefully decrease the workload for the uniformed police and the other police,” he said at the time.

“I think that is the important thing that if you keep putting resources into crime then you never win the battle and the regional enforcement squads are key, they're central to preventing and disrupting crime.”

A number of concerned residents have contacted the Mudgee Guardian claiming key roles at the Mudgee Police Station, including the commander and administrations officer, will be relocated to Dubbo as part of the restructure.

NSW Police Minister, Troy Grant, explained, “it is entirely false to suggest that police services will be diminished in any way as a result of the re-engineering.”

“This process is in its infancy, and communities across the State, including in the Dubbo electorate, and local police, will be consulted on any potential changes.”

The establishment of the Police Re-engineering Taskforce comes as the latest crime statistics show a reduction in the majority of recorded criminal incidents in the Mid-Western region.

In the 12 months to June, the region had 114 domestic violence incidents, 31 motor vehicle thefts, 91 incidents of stealing from dwellings and 241 incidents of malicious damage to property. 

Indecent assault increased from 29 in 2016 to 40 in 2017.