Coast misses out on police recruits
AS 116 of the 131 recent graduates of the NSW Police Academy head to Sydney and surrounds, the Mid-North and North Coast has been left utterly empty handed.
In a move that smells strongly of party politics, none of the probationary constables will be heading any further north on the coast than Port Stephens.
A riot in Yamba, a large portion of the current police on sick or stress leave, slow response times, petitions with thousands of signatures and reports of a regularly locked police station at Grafton have done nothing to convince the heads of NSW police that the area needs more feet on the ground.
All three National Party MPs from the effected area have come out against the decision, as has the Northern Region Executive Member of the Police Association Detective Tony King.
“There are currently 60 unfilled slots in the current roster in the Coffs/Clarence LAC,” said Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser.
“These unfilled slots are putting an enormous amount of pressure on the remaining Police Officers as they are required to put in extra shifts.”
Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell and Member for Tweed Geoff Provest issued a joint press release accusing Labor of putting politics ahead of the safety of the area’s police and public.
“The North Coast is demonstrably being short changed by Labor when it comes to police numbers,” the MPs said.
“There is one officer for every five hundred people in Sydney, but only one for every seven hundred on the North Coast.”
“When you consider the Clarence Valley has a ratio of one police officer for over 1000 people, it’s even worse,” Mr Cansdell said.
“From a graduation of 131, most are being posted in or around Sydney, while we get nothing ... in a desperate bid to hang on to power,” Mr Provest said. “We have a higher proportion of officers on sick leave or light duties here than in Sydney, so we should have received our fair share.”
Detective King said staffing was at a critically low level on the Mid-North Coast and North Coast.
“The Government recently released projected population growth patterns for NSW and we saw the Northern Rivers is experiencing high growth which is predicted to continue,” he said.
“What we didn’t see was a plan from the Government to provide essential services such as police and health to these expanding communities.
“The closure of Sawtell Police Station to keep Coffs Harbour open, the closure of Wardell and Alstonville to keep Ballina open are indicative there is a problem with staffing in this region.”