The Labor Government’s neglect of Victoria Police is putting the safety of our local communities at risk, with rising crime rates and declining police numbers.
Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland addressed these concerns in Parliament during the week, calling on the Government to put their support regional police officers and keep regional towns safe.
“We are seeing significant rises in crime across much of our regional areas, with youth crime, family violence and farm crime all continuing to soar,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Criminal incidents rising by over 10 per cent in a year across multiple regional communities needs to be taken seriously.
“We know it is becoming increasingly difficult to prevent crime with fewer officers on duty.
“Instead, we are seeing this Labor Government withdraw support from our local police stations, forcing them to work at reduced hours, or close entirely in some cases.”
Labor promised to recruit up to 2000 new officers, but the latest Victoria Police annual report confirmed there are 319 fewer police officers compared to last year.
There are 800 general Victoria Police vacancies, with an annual exodus of 500 officers from the force, and more than 800 police officers off duty on WorkCover.
It has come to light that one out of every five police officers are set to depart from their roles in the upcoming year, resulting in a loss of 3,500 dedicated officers from active duty.
A study by Swinburne University has revealed that a staggering 67 percent of officers feel burnt out, workload pressure is skyrocketing, and stress levels have reached unprecedented heights.
Police whistleblowers have raised the alarm, stating that major crimes, including sexual assault, are taking three years to be investigated.
Intervention orders are not being served on time, police vehicles remain idle, and stations are closing without notice.
With the threat of one-officer stations being shut, Ms Cleeland said it was integral that something was done to help them.
“We’ve heard the Minister for Police say there were no staffing problems across Victoria Police, yet the numbers don’t lie,” Ms Cleeland said.
“This lack of support threatens to leave rural communities without a policing presence and sends a signal that the safety and protection of our rural communities doesn’t matter.
“Many of these small country towns are too far away from a major centre for police to respond to an emergency situation within a reasonable timeframe.
“Given the multi-faceted role of single officer stations, it will undoubtably result in a rise in crime and decline in community safety and wellbeing in these areas.
“I’m calling for Labor to fix its issues with police recruitment and retention and keep its hands off our single officer rural police stations.”