Adjournment matter: Warrnambool police numbers

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Police, and the action I seek is for her to ensure police numbers in Warrnambool are adequate for a city of 35 000 people. Just on 12 months ago the Police Association Victoria described police resources at Warrnambool as critical and the worst in country Victoria. From my discussions with officers from across my electorate, nothing much has changed. Officers are still being tied up with unnecessary tasks, like court security, and officers are still being called in from other stations to fill shifts. They are frustrated because of the lack of resources to do their jobs, and they have reduced powers to get successful outcomes, all because this government is soft on crime. I saw this firsthand when the police were unable to move on confrontational protesters. The officers stood there useless, wanting to do their job, but were hamstrung. I felt sorry for them. They were as frustrated as we were.

This government is failing to act. They are so controlled by unions, so it seems strange that they are ignoring the police association. I was shocked to learn during my discussions with current and retired officers right across my electorate that in Warrnambool there is only one divisional van per shift for a city of 35 000 people. I am told a city of this size should have at least two vans on the road per shift, but the officers needed to crew a second van, especially with the two-up policy, are not available. It is also sometimes difficult to find officers to crew one van.

It is becoming increasingly common to see reports of serious crime in local media in the South-West Coast electorate, the types of crimes that would have been considered rare in our part of the world previously. The latest crime figures show big jumps in dangerous and negligent acts endangering people, arson, burglary and break-ins, thefts, and deception-related offences. Weapons and explosive offences and public nuisance offences have also risen significantly. This comes at a time when we are seeing constant headlines in city newspapers reporting carjackings and home invasions. My fear is it will not take long for copycats to start committing these types of crimes in regional centres such as Warrnambool. I am told through my conversations with current and retired police officers that it is not uncommon for police members from outlying towns to cover shifts in Warrnambool. Often they are single-officer stations up to 50 kilometres away, and those small towns are then left vulnerable and without a police presence.

Because of this government’s soft approach to crime, people in the city are living in fear. We see almost daily reports of carjackings and violent home invasions, and people in the country are telling me they are starting to feel frightened too. I call on the Minister for Police to address the issues around police numbers in Warrnambool so the people of the South-West Coast electorate can be confident their local police have the resources they need to be able to do their jobs.