Police resources at breaking point

THE police staffing crisis in Grafton is so bad major investigations are being shelved because detectives have to work general duty shifts just to keep the police station open.

Police Association of NSW Northern Region executive member Tony King said the situation was jeopardising investigations into major crimes.

“Police resources are at breaking point in Grafton and the surrounding areas. Our detectives are working general duties shifts just to keep the doors open and this means major criminal investigations get pushed to the side,” Mr King said.

“In January 2011 the Coffs/Clarence command received an additional eight detective positions to keep up with demand, but now those detectives are being forced to work uni- form shifts to cover for a lack of officers.

“This shouldn’t be the way policing works, but we have no choice.”

To make matters worse, the Grafton TAG unit, which mainly investigates house break-ins and property theft, was disbanded before Christmas to allow more police to get back on the beat.

“Disbanding TAG means that break-ins and property theft are no longer being properly investigated. And now we are getting reports that residents in Yamba are resorting to putting barbed wire and nails on their fences to feel safe,” Mr King said.

“At present there is no indication when the TAG Police will be returned to their unit.”

Mr King said the community deserved better.

“No one should have to resort to barbed wire to prevent crimes in our community,” he said.

“All these factors indicate there is a significant staffing problem in Grafton and it’s time for a serious allocation of uni- formed officers to fix the problem once and for all.”

Grafton’s duty officer Inspector Murray Gillett was not able to comment at the time The Daily Examiner went to print.

A spokesperson for NSW Police headquarters in Sydney repeated comments made to The Daily Examiner last week that the 12 additional officers sent to the wider Coffs/Clarence Area Command were part of the allocation of 52 field operation positions that went to the North Region of the state at the beginning of the year.

The allocation clearly indicated “the priority that was placed on ensuring that appropriate policing resources were deployed to this area,” said the spokesperson. “The allocations are determined by a range of factors including case loads, crime rates and trends; projected future growth areas, issues specific to each LAC and in consultation with the Police Association of NSW.”

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