The impending restructure of the NSW Police force has been slammed as a ‘cost-cutting’ exercise by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
NSW Police has set up a task-force to look at a new model to get more police officers on the front line in regional areas.
However, The National party said the restructure will put more police on the front line and guarantee more local control over police in towns like Leeton and Narrandera.
National Party Murray candidate Austin Evans said residents were telling him criminals were getting a “free ride” in towns whenever police had to travel from Griffith to attend incidents.
“This plan will put a stop to that by keeping police in small and medium-sized towns and putting more control in the hands of local inspectors,” he said.
However the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have seized on a leaked letter from the NSW Police Force to claim the restructure is a “cost-cutting exercise”.
The 2015 letter from a senior NSW Police bureaucrat to the Audit Office called the plans a “comprehensive independent review to examine all opportunities to achieve savings and consideration of operational and structural reforms in police.”
SFF candidate Helen Dalton said the restructure “smells, sounds and looks like cost-cutting at the expense of regional police numbers”.
She has also spoken of concerns raised by “rank and file” police officers concerned with the restructure process.
Her parliamentary colleague Philip Donato MP, a former police prosecutor, has flagged this issue in Parliament with the police minister, who he said “has still failed to rule out a reduction in police numbers in regional NSW”.
“It is time for Troy Grant to come clean and let the communities in the electorates of Cootamundra, Murray, Orange, Dubbo and regional NSW know about these forced Police Local Area Command amalgamations and staff cuts,” Mr Donato said.
In a comment to The Area News, Deputy Commissioner Regional NSW Field Operations Gary Worboys stated no decisions have been finalised, however an announcement would be made in the following weeks.
He has also said there will be no impact on the current police service delivery in the region, and there is no plan to close any police stations.
However Acting Public Service Association (PSA) General Secretary Troy Wright said they still held “grave fears many regional areas will be stripped of their local police area command under this restructure.”
He also called for Minister of Police Troy Grant to “come clean and reveal his plan,” rather than keeping up the “shambolic drip feed of selective information.”
Mayor John Dal Broi said while he hasn’t been informed of any changes to the Griffith LAC, would welcome the restructure if it meant Griffith and surrounding areas would see more front line police.