MP calls for Police Commissioner to look outside of Sydney
COFFS Harbour MP Andrew Fraser has challenged the NSW Police Commissioner to look outside of Sydney and give the region the police numbers it deserves.
Responding to the police association's claims this week that the North Coast has the most poorly resourced police stations in the country, Mr Fraser said he had no doubt that had the armed robberies and string of violent crimes Coffs/Clarence command had been subjected to in past years been committed in Sydney, the commissioner would have had a far more "lenient attitude" towards boosting numbers.
The NSW Government claims that as of August, the operational capacity for the northern region was 98%.
APN Newsdesk understands that while Coffs/Clarence Command is officially operating at 90%, a number of officers on stress leave and restricted duties mean the figure is in fact much lower.
This week, the union threatened industrial action, should a staffing review, which is currently before Assistant Police Commissioner Jeff Loy, not result in a major increase in the North Coast's police strength.
NSW PANSW President Scott Weber said a toxic mix of critical staff shortages and increased workloads was putting communities at risk and it was time the government "put their money where their mouth is" and allocated proper police resources to the region.
Deputy NSW Premier Andrew Stoner said the union's claims were "not constructive".
He maintained that "many" of the 420 new officers sworn in since the 2011 election had been sent to the northern region.
Mr Fraser said that while the government had taken significant steps to boost numbers, there was no doubt that more of officers should have found their way to the Coffs/Clarence command.
He said that without a "huge burst of numbers" the community would continue to be at risk and called on Commissioner Andrew Scipione to pay less attention to the front pages of metropolitan newspapers and focus on protecting the community.
The police association has called for 400 extra officers to be sent to the region in time for the busy Christmas holiday season.
Industrial action will be discussed during a meeting at Newcastle later this month.