The Police Association of NSW (PANSW) has urged the government to boost police numbers by at least 2500 in the next five years, or risk the safety of the people of NSW.
The association’s president Scott Weber issued the call on Thursday, highlighting Dubbo as one area where police could no longer provide the protection the community needed due to “years of neglect of country policing”.
He warned that if police numbers were not significantly increased, it would be impossible to protect the people of NSW from threats of terrorism, domestic violence, child abuse, ice, and organised crime.
But Dubbo MP and Police Minister Troy Grant said the government and NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller were already working to boost police numbers.
Mr Weber said: “Over the next five years 2500 additional officers will be required to prevent us falling into the same shameful crime scourge as Victoria and to remain the Premier State.”
“In Victoria, there is an epidemic of violence and robbery. The community feels unsafe going about their day to day lives … NSW must act now to prevent this happening here.”
The re-engineering of the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) had highlighted a shortfall of sworn front line officers, Mr Weber said, with more than 500 vacant positions in metropolitan police stations alone.
The NSWPF has been very successful responding to serious crime trends by creating specific units, Mr Weber said, with enormous resources required to protect NSW from terrorism. But rather than increasing police numbers to staff these units, officers had been moved from local communities.
“If this under-resourcing continues, the people of NSW will be put at risk with even extended response times not being met,” he said.
Mr Grant said the government shared the association’s desire for more police.
“They’ve called for two-and-a-half thousand more police and that’s been a long-term view through this government,” Mr Grant said.
“I think we’re up to 900-odd extra police already. More of those are rolling out and once the re-engineering process is completed we’ll know exactly the quantity of additional police will be required, where they need to go and what they need to be doing and that work will continue side-by-side with the police association.”
Mr Grant said police faced an “ever-changing crime landscape”, but said “NSW police, working with the community, are doing everything in their power to prevent it wherever possible”.
“This re-engineering and allocation of resources will only continue to increase that capacity and in regional NSW we’re seeing already new specialist resources being allocated to target specialist crimes that have never occurred before,” Mr Grant said.
“The Commissioner is already making provisions within the next two classes that are going through the academy for increased numbers to meet the ever-growing demands on the police resources.
“I’ve got every confidence in the Police Commissioner regarding the resourcing… There’s no greater supporter of police in NSW than the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and myself. The association know that, as does the Police Commissioner and we’ll continue to work closely with them to give them the resources they need to protect our community, which is expected of us.”
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