One of the state’s top cops says he is working to make sure police in regional areas are adequately staffed and have the resources they need to keep communities safe.
Deputy Commissioner Gary Warboys said during a visit to Cessnock Police Station on Thursday he was “constantly” in talks with the Police Association of NSW and the Public Service Association in relation to staffing and conditions.
It came after the police union launched a petition on Monday calling for hundreds of vacant positions across the state to be filled.
The Newcastle Herald reported earlier this week that there were 24 unfilled positions in the six Hunter, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast police districts.
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“In my position I constantly work with the NSW Police Association and the Public Service Association, around their members and the gaps that they see,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said on Thursday.
“We have very positive conversations. Every single day I work to make sure that every police station in country NSW is fully staffed, has the right equipment and [police] are safe in doing their job.”
The Deputy Commissioner was in the Hunter to get feedback from the region’s police about how the transformation of local area commands into police districts was tracking eight months on.
As part of the major statewide shake-up, the Maitland and Cessnock areas were split and put in separate police districts – Maitland in Port Stephens-Hunter and Cessnock in Hunter Valley.
The system means there is now a dedicated officer-in-charge based at every police station.
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“What we know is working well is the officer-in-charge model,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.
“We said we would have an officer-in-charge at every police station and we’ve delivered on that. We know that those folks who have that title have had good interactions with the local community and are fixing issues and problems that affect local communities.
“We know there’s a little bit more work to do and we always knew that would happen. [I had a] great conversation today here with the district manager about how we can better support the front counter rostering, our HR principles going forward, our finance and those sorts of things.”
New Hunter Valley district commander Acting Superintendent Chad Gillies, who moved from the Hume command in the Goulburn and Southern Highlands area, said police were receiving more community feedback under the officer-in-charge system.
He said reducing road trauma – particularly on rural stretches – and domestic violence were key priorities for the region.
“We will have a very consistent approach to domestic violence, making sure where possible offenders are going before the courts but importantly looking after the victims,” he said.
“Domestic violence is a huge issue but it is everywhere and it’s important that we keep encouraging our victims to come forward.”
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