Police deny playing politics with regional reforms

Deputy Commissioner Regional Field Operations Gary Worboys
Deputy Commissioner Regional Field Operations Gary Worboys

Claims the re-engineering of regional police commands have been delayed because of byelections in southern NSW have been rejected by Deputy Commissioner of NSW Gary Worboys and Police Minister Troy Grant.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Phil Donato has accused the government of delaying the decision, which he says are being carried out for cost-cutting.

However Deputy Commissioner Warboys and Mr Grant both said the re-engineering was a substantial project that couldn’t be rushed, and was being conducted separately to the metropolitan restructure announced by Commissioner Mick Fuller last week.

“I have been progressively visiting police stations across NSW, meeting with officers and administrative staff, speaking with various level of government and simply talking to people I meet in those towns. I will continue to meet with commands and communities across regional NSW,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.

“I appreciate there is a degree of concern among police, staff and the community but consultation is an important process.

“No decisions have been finalised for regional NSW, and an announcement will be made following this step in the coming weeks.”

There is strong speculation the Dubbo and Mudgee Local Area Commands will be merged but Troy Grant did not respond to questions about plans to join LACs.

He did say the government was working with Commissioner Fuller to implement the reform and reiterated a previous comment the restructure was about “putting more boots on the ground where they’re needed”.

Mr Donato has been a strong critic of the reforms and in a letter distributed to the media on Wednesday, said he had seen a document that showed “imminent jobs losses and relocation of staff which would occur following consolidating of regional LACs”.

He said he had been contacted by concerned officers at Orange, Parkes, Forbes, Mudgee, Young, Cowra and Cootamundra.

Representatives from the Public Service Association were in Mudgee on Thursday to talk to civilian staff who feared for their jobs.

“As a former uniformed officer, I would have thought Troy Grant would be very well aware of the vital role played by civilian support staff in day to day policing in NSW,” PSA assistant general secretary Kym Ward said.