Lake Macquarie Police Numbers
24th October 2018
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (15:18): My question is directed to the Minister for Police, and Minister for Emergency Services. Given the Police Association says that an additional 2,500 police officers are urgently required in New South Wales, will the Government deliver those extra police, allowing for increased attention for growth areas such as southern Lake Macquarie and the 24/7 operation of Morisset Police Station?
Mr TROY GRANT (Dubbo—Minister for Police, and Minister for Emergency Services) (15:18): I thank the member for Lake Macquarie for his question. I acknowledge from the outset that he is a wonderful local member who is much respected and admired by his community. I thank him for hosting me recently when we handed over a number of fire trucks to Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service in his electorate. He should be very proud of the work he does there and I thank him for supporting the police and emergency services in his electorate. The member knows all too well—and Lake Macquarie is probably a classic example—that the level of diversity in communities across New South Wales the NSW Police Force has to respond to is probably the highest that any law enforcement agency has to combat across the world. We have the City of Sydney and the differing geographic and demographic make-up of our suburbs. There is diversity across our regional communities, be it the snowfields in one area and the outback in another. There are large regional cities.
That is why the Government supported the New South Wales police commissioner to undertake a re-engineering process for the command structure and governance of policing efforts and the resourcing and deployment of police resources in our communities, which was very successfully completed by Commissioner Michael Fuller, APM, and his executive. As a result, we now have police area commands and regional district commands that are more in line, in tune and in sync with the needs of each of our diverse communities. Lake Macquarie is a classic example—as I alluded to—in that it has a massive body of water, Lake Macquarie. It is a beautiful part of the world and a place that I very proudly called home in 1995 and 1996. It also has significant rugged, mountainous country around it and is geographically isolated in some parts. There are rural areas and metropolitan areas and the like. It needs to be resourced and the policing resources must reflect the needs of the community.
That is what the re-engineering process allows. The Police Association's claim and pursuit of additional resources goes to the other point raised by the member for Lake Macquarie—it is about growth. It is about not only population growth but also growth in the amount and types of challenges that police will face into the future— whether those challenges are technology based or related to specific community demographics, such as crimes targeted at youth, the elderly or other vulnerable people. We need to get the resource mix right. The first thing I want to make sure everyone in this place understands is that those decisions are not made by me as the Minister or by the Government; they are made—as is right—by the Commissioner of Police. Our job is to ensure that he has the legislation and funding to allow him to employ the quantum of police required.
It was this Government that initiated the re-engineering process and it was this Premier who asked the Commissioner of Police to bring back to her and the Government the number of police that we will need for the future resourcing of the NSW Police Force for communities with varied needs. I can report to the House that in conjunction with the Police Association, which I met with as recently as this morning, work is very nearly completed. The Police Association is very happy with direction that it is going in. I add that since 2011 the Government has introduced—as it committed to—more than 1,000 extra police to the ranks of the NSW Police Force. Since 2011, Lake Macquarie has received 43 probationary constables to meet the area's changing needs. The area now has access to the Raptor North squad to deal with mid-level crime.
I have been very proud to stand next to the member at the opening of two new police stations in the Lake Macquarie electorate and three in the Lake Macquarie area: Toronto Police Station, Morisset Police Station and, in the Swansea electorate area, Belmont Police Station, which the member for Lake Macquarie was also involved with. It is not only about the investment in infrastructure or the equipment used; it is also about—and we recognise this—the human capital. When that work is completed appropriately by the commissioner it will not only talk about numbers and what the figure will be but also talk about where those police need to be and what they need to be doing to make sure that the NSW Police Force, with the support of the Government, can do everything possible to keep New South Wales safe and secure. We have made that commitment. Since 2011 we have kept every one of our commitments, and we will not break this one.
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