Is there a constable in the house?
By ADRIAN MILLER
AS the Christmas and New Year break rapidly approaches, and the population of Yamba begins to swell, the number of police in the town has again been called into question.
But this time the troubles have spread from Yamba into the normally quiet village of Angourie.
On Wednesday morning, one resident awoke to find a car rolling along the road with its engine and lights off and three teenagers travelling in it.
As he watched the youths he saw them proceed along the street trying to break into cars and search through them.
When they approached his car he confronted them, causing them to flee the area.
Shocked enough by the discovery that even Angourie was no longer safe from thieves, the man was more shocked the next day when he could not contact police in Yamba to report the crime.
The resident, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, said he tried to contact police in Yamba up to six times without success.
He said when he got through to the Grafton station, he was given a police assistance number to call, which went unanswered.
He said it was an unacceptable situation.
"It just seems incredible that a town with up to 10,000 holidaymakers, that the police station is not manned at all," he said.
"I phoned them four times and called in twice and got nothing."
The resident said it did not bode well for emergency situations.
"What annoys me is the fact that if someone had a serious accident or was in serious trouble and required police attendance they're not going to get it," he said.
But Coffs/Clarence Local Area Commander Superintendent Peter Barrie rejected the claim the Lower River was suffering.
"There's no issue at all with a lack of police numbers in the area because I've invoked a leave embargo, except in extreme circumstances, throughout the command," he said.
"So there's no shortage of police in the area at the current time."
Supt Barrie said the Lower River coverage was substantial.
"In the Lower River sectors ? Maclean, Yamba, Iluka and Lawrence ? they operate as one sector of stations so that we've got coverage every day of the week," he said.
"They work about 20 hours a day and then there's on-call arrangements with the lock-up keeper if it's an urgent matter or we provide service from the 24-hour station if it's a non-urgent matter.
"Amongst that cluster of stations there is always someone rostered for that area."
Supt Barrie said police were always available in emergencies, adding the police assistance number often provided many benefits.
"The police assistance line helps us because it releases police from sitting behind computers typing in information when they can be out on the street preventing future crimes," he said.