But despite the shocking findings, contained in a new Productivity Commission report, Police Minister Troy Grant yesterday insisted the NSW Police Force was “the envy of the Western world” and said statistics showed crime rates were falling.
However, Police Association president Scott Weber said the report showed NSW was on “a knife edge” and more officers were urgently needed in key areas including the sexual assault squad and highway patrol.
The Productivity Commission report shows NSW has 239 police officers for every 100,000 citizens, while Victoria has 279 and Queensland has 290. Only the ACT has a worse ratio at 209 and the Australia-wide average is 274 police officers.
The report shows that spending on police per NSW citizen was $388 last financial year, compared with $458 in 2015-16. The expenditure was $3.0301 billion for 2016-17, compared with $3.5135 billion in 2015-16, when spending was at its highest.
Mr Weber called on the Berejiklian government to hire more frontline police officers.
“I think we are at a knife edge,” he said.
“We really need more officers in the highway patrol, the sex squad and general duty officers in western and regional areas because there’s a real decline in the service and response times,” Mr Weber said.
“We need to hire 247 officers a year just to keep up with population growth but the 310 officers the government committed to deliver over four years is woefully inadequate.”