UPDATE: Police Resources for Knox must be maintained

EXTRACT FROM PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES HANSARD

CONSTITUENCY QUESTIONS

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mr WELLS (Rowville) — (Question 326) The constituency matter I wish to raise is for the attention of the Minister for Police and relates to police resources. I raise it on behalf of concerned residents of the city of Knox, particularly those of Rowville.

Having regard: firstly, to the fact that the Andrews Labor government did not commit funding during the last state election or the recent state budget to a single net additional new police member; secondly, to increasing concerns regarding the twin scourges of the ice epidemic and the prevalence of family violence; and, thirdly, to Victoria Police guidelines discouraging single‑person patrols in light of increased terrorist threat levels, I ask the minister: can he provide an assurance to my constituents that police resources in the city of Knox, and particularly in Rowville, will be maintained at existing levels over the term of the minister’s government and that there will be no reduction or detriment to police patrol hours across Rowville and Knox?

Answer Published Date: 19/01/2016

Thank you for your constituency question. I apologise for the delay in responding.The Victorian Government is committed to a well-resourced police force, with a strong commitment to community engagement and policing. In May 2010, the Labor Government committed funding for an additional 1,966 police to the frontline, which includes an increase of 58 police in the Eastern Region Division 2, which includes the Knox Police Service Area (PSA).

Since coming to office in November 2014, the Andrews Labor Government has funded almost 700 additional police personnel, reflecting the Government’s commitment to work with the Chief Commissioner to ensure we provide the resources to police that will keep our community safe. Our continued investment in policing has seen a record $2.5 billion budget for Victoria Police in 2015/16 to continue their important work.

The Government recently announced funding to nearly double Victoria Police’s counter-terrorism investigative capacity. This new investment will fund 88 counter-terrorism specialists, including 40 dedicated sworn officers, as well as intelligence experts, forensic analysts, and equipment.

The Government is investing $148.6 million over four years to free up police to undertake frontline duties protecting our community where they are needed. This will occur by recruiting, training and deploying 400 custody officers to initially supervise prisoners at around 22 police stations across Victoria.

Under Victorian law, I cannot direct the Chief Commissioner about the allocation or deployment of police to or at particular locations in accordance with section 10 of the Victoria Police Act 2013.

As you would expect the Government works closely with the Chief Commissioner to ensure Victoria Police is appropriately resourced to tackle law and order issues facing the Victorian community, including family violence and the use of ice and other illicit drugs. These issues remain a key focus for Victoria Police.

I assure you that the residents of the Knox PSA will continue to receive a 24-hour police response which includes Rowville. If any person requires urgent police assistance, they should contact Victoria Police on the emergency number ‘000′. Calls made to ‘000′ are processed and responded to by the closest appropriate police personnel.

I am advised by Victoria Police that significant work is undertaken to address family violence and drug related crime in the Knox PSA. Local police have arrested a substantial number of high-level drug traffickers since July 2015.

Police are working with a number of other government and non-government agencies who are all focussed on reducing family violence related crime. This joint approach has a strong focus on tackling drivers of family violence with a view to keeping victims safe and holding perpetrators to account.  There is also a longer-term vision of changing behaviours through community education, in particular to address gender inequity. Better risk assessment to identify persons at risk and prevent escalation and re-occurrence of family violence is all part of the focus on improved community safety and to ensure that ongoing outcomes are achieved.

The Government will continue to consult with Victoria Police about overall police resourcing across the state. I am assured by the Chief Commissioner that the level of policing is continuously monitored by respective command officers, with a view to ensuring community safety.

Hon Wade Noonan MP

Minister for Police